Tips for Survivors, From Survivors

Student Survivor Toolkit: Download the PDF

We asked student survivors, “What do you wish you had known about the Title IX process beforehand? What advice do you have for other survivors?” Here are their answers.
* Some survivors chose to uses pseudonyms or remain anonymous

 

You’re not alone.

“You do not have to carry all of this by yourself. You are not weak for asking for help. There are a lot of people that truly want to help survivors, so it’s okay to reach out.”
  – Mia Doe*

“Remember: you are choosing to help the University make sure there is not a sexual predator on campus. I went into the process feeling like everyone was doing me a favor, and that wasn’t true. I was doing them a favor.”
  – Sobia S.

“Telling your story to anybody is important. If they don’t listen to you, you go to the next person, because it’s important to get your justice. Even if there are people that don’t listen to you, there are other people that will hear you out, and they will do something about it.”
  – Virginia M.

“Follow up on everything. And trust your gut.”
  – Anonymous survivor

“You’re not alone. There are other survivors who will stand with you, who know what you’re going through and what you’ve been through. You deserve to be believed, listened to, and helped.”
  – Anonymous survivor

 

It takes time.

“There is a lot of waiting around [in Title IX]. It takes a long time and there are long pauses between one step and the next.”
  – Anonymous survivor

“Be aware from the onset that you’re going to be advocating for promptness. Oftentimes there’s not enough staff, the Title IX people aren’t competent, or they’re just waiting you out and hoping you drop the case or graduate.”
  – Maha Ibrahim, ERA attorney and survivor advocate

“Get the school to tell you the timeline for each step, and who will be getting back to you.”
  – Sobia S.

 

Assert your rights.

“If your school tells you that you have to report it to the police first, don’t listen. That’s not true.”
  – Samar R.

“You can say no. You can ask beforehand what a meeting is going to be about. You can ask someone to be there with you. You can pause a meeting and say ‘I need a minute.’ If you don’t understand something, ask for an explanation. You can say ‘this is what I need.’”
  – Sobia S.

“You are allowed to have a legal advocate and a support person so please, take advantage of it!”
  – Mia Doe*

“Many students don’t know that they can ask for their tuition back. It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, but you should ask.”
  – Sobia S.

 

It’s a difficult process.

“For the investigator’s interviews, pick a time where you won’t feel rushed to finish. Take your time and breathe while telling your story. Bring your advisor to be with you. Take some time to relax before and after.”
  – Isha K.

“You don’t have to tell anyone the details of your story on demand, especially if they’re not directly involved in the investigation and conducting official investigatory processes when they ask.”
  – Maha Ibrahim, ERA Attorney & Survivor Advocate

“Have a friend or advisor read the emails from the University about the case to let you know if there’s a trigger.”
  – Sobia S.

“Don’t let anyone make you second guess yourself, but be prepared for victim-blaming. The language the investigator used during my interviews about the sexual assault made me question myself. In hindsight, I think that was the intent.”
  – Isha K.

“The investigator will also do a character assessment and officially determine your credibility. It’s unfair, but you should know so you can pay attention to what you’re saying, how you’re saying it, and your body language.”
  – Sobia S.

 

The outcome.

“If you go through the Title IX process and they do not rule in your favor, it does not mean that the sexual assault didn’t happen. You know what happened and that’s truly the only story that matters.”
  – Mia Doe*

“Your school officials are not the ultimate authority on Title IX. Even if they say ‘that’s that,’ you can get help from organizations like ERA if you are being mistreated, ignored, blamed, or anything else that doesn’t feel or seem right.”
  – Survivor Advocate & ERA Attorney Maha Ibrahim

“What I’ve had to learn the hard way is that the conclusion of my Title IX case did not bring me the closure I was desperately seeking… I thought if I just made it to the date of the hearing, it would all be over and poof, I’d never think about it again. Legally, the absolute best-case scenario happened for me. But still, I felt no sense of victory. I might have won my safety and peace of mind on campus, and I am so incredibly grateful for that, but I did not get an overwhelming sense of joy and suddenly start looking at the world through new eyes. But I know what has helped me: admitting that I wasn’t okay. Admitting that I needed help. And, most importantly, admitting that it wasn’t my fault.”
  – Mia Doe*


Final words of advice.

“Try not to let something like this define you, because you are so much more than any of your scars, seen or unseen.”
  – Mia Doe*

“Reporting should not be a disempowering process. Every student survivor should be able to know what specifically they are getting into and have all the support they need to feel heard. I hope that this toolkit helps survivors set themselves up for success in a system that is already against them. Stay Safe & Stay Strong <3.”
  – Isha K.

“Regardless of the outcome of the hearing, you are extremely brave for coming forward and speaking out. What happened to you is not your fault. The journey to healing is a long one and you are not alone; we believe you! It is okay to lean on friends, family, and your advocates for the support you need throughout the Title IX process; we are here for you!”
  – Harjit Kaur, ERA attorney and survivor advocate

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