In recent years, there has been increasing focus and attention on the prevention of and response to sexual violence. However, some may still feel silenced when they attempt to reach out. At Roosevelt University, we want all our students to feel heard. One place to get help is the Counseling Center, where I work as part of a team of psychologists and therapists.
I’d like to tell you a bit about what survivors of sexual violence might experience, and what kind of help we can provide in the Counseling Center. It is important for all who have experienced trauma in their life to feel a sense of support when sharing their experiences. Talking with a professional therapist is one step in the healing process and can be very powerful in overcoming trauma. You can share your story with us without judgment or blame.
If you have experienced sexual violence, you may go through a range of physical and emotional symptoms. Some common reactions to a traumatic experience include: muscle tension, pain, injury, shortness of breath, fatigue, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, shock/numbness, shame, guilt, feeling a loss of control, embarrassment, fear, grief, depression, loss of trust, loss of a sense of safety, irritability, suicidal thoughts, crying or the inability to cry.
A therapist’s job is to help you make sense of what happened to you. Sometimes survivors doubt what happened because the person who hurt them was someone they trusted. Sometimes they may not know what happened at all because they were intoxicated or drugged during the experience. Some may have experienced trauma at a young age and are just now putting the pieces together. Therapy becomes a safe place to talk about how these experiences have shaped you.
Our goal as therapists is to be there for you through the process of remembering and provide you with the skills to cope with the past in order to regain a sense of control over your life. Trauma reshapes your life in so many ways. We can help make sense of its influence and help to reorganize your life to be in a healthy space again.
A therapist’s job is to help you make sense of what happened to you. Sometimes survivors doubt what happened because the person who hurt them was someone they trusted.
The first step in seeking help through the Counseling Center is to schedule an appointment. In this appointment, which could last from 60 to 90 minutes, an intake clinician will ask a range of questions to figure out how to get you the most useful help. This person will ask questions about your medical and emotional history and your relationships and family. You don’t have to talk about anything you’d rather not; we’re simply gathering information to make recommendations for you. We might refer you to medical, legal or advocacy resources, as well as therapy services in the Counseling Center or the community. If you enter therapy in the Counseling Center, you will remain with the same therapist throughout your subsequent sessions. We offer short-term individual, couples and group therapy for students (only one partner needs to be a student for couples therapy).
It’s important to know that at the Counseling Center, we can—and will—keep your information completely private and confidential. Any University employee who is told of sexual misconduct has the obligation to protect your privacy, but he or she also must report the incident to our Title IX Coordinator. In the Counseling Center, we are not obligated to report to anyone. (One exception: We cannot guarantee confidentiality if a student is a potential danger to himself or herself or others. We must ensure that all individuals are safe so that we may begin the healing process.)
We know it takes a lot of trust to allow us into your world, and it is our duty to make you feel safe, validated and heard. We fully accept the responsibility and consider it a gift to help students.
If you or someone you know needs help overcoming trauma of any kind, reach out to us. You don’t have to feel alone. We are here for you!
The Counseling Center
Chicago: Auditorium Building, Room 470
Schaumburg: Room 114
To report sexual misconduct, contact the Title IX coordinator, Dr. Bridget Collier.
Wabash Building, 1312
Campus Safety, available 24 hours a day
Chicago Campus: (312) 341-2020
Schaumburg Campus: (847) 619-8989
Chicago police: (312) 745-4290 or 911
Schaumburg police: (847) 882-3586 or 911
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
251 East Huron St.
Rush University Medical Center
1653 W. Congress Parkway
University of Illinois Hospital
1740 W Taylor St.
Alexian Brothers Medical Center
800 Biesterfield Road in Elk Grove Village
Medical and emotional resources
Planned Parenthood—Loop Health Center
18 S. Michigan Ave., sixth floor, Chicago
Rape Victim Advocates
180 N. Michigan Ave., #600, Chicago
Porchlight Counseling Services (for sexual assault survivors)
1740 Ridge Ave., Suite L14, Evanston
Center on Halsted (LGBTQ)
3656 N. Halsted St., Chicago
Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline—(888) 293-2080
Chicago Domestic Violence Line—(877) 863-6338
State of Illinois AIDS/HIV and STD Hotline—(800) 243-2437
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network—(800) 656-4673
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline—(800) 273-8255