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Student Mental Health

Twin Cities Campus

Crime Victimization

Talking with Faculty or Staff About Being a Victim of Crime

Victims of crime often experience a range of emotions including shock, disbelief, anxiety and depression, numbness, fear and shame. These reactions, in turn, can seriously interfere with academic success.

Students who become victims of crime often report academic difficulties including a loss of motivation for doing academic work, concentration difficulties, mental pre-occupation with events surrounding the crime and a general loss of a sense of personal safety.

Students are entitled to ask for academic assistance in dealing with these crime after-effects. Typical requests might include extensions on assignment due dates and rescheduling of tests. Students may also ask to be put in a different section of a class or a different room or apartment in on-campus housing for safety reasons. Here are some suggestions on how to talk with faculty and staff members about your experiences and requests:

  1. Let faculty/staff know as soon as possible after the crime that you may be requesting accommodations, even if you are not sure if you will need them. You are not obligated to reveal all the details of the crime, only that you have been victimized and what accommodations you may be seeking.

  2. Whether or not you feel ready or able to talk to a faculty/staff member, consider seeking help from a mental health professional, advocate or the Disability Resource Center office (if you have a disability). They can help with your own emotional response to the crime, and may also help you get clear about how and when to communicate with faculty/staff. Some U staff, such as an advisor, may even be able to contact a faculty/staff member on your behalf.

  3. If possible, have some form of documentation of your experience that you can show to faculty/staff if requested. A copy of the police report may serve this purpose, but may contain details about the crime you do not wish to share with a faculty or staff member. Another option is to have a professional with whom you are working write a short supportive letter documenting that you have been a crime victim.

  4. If a faculty/staff member expresses doubt about your academic difficulties or questions why you did not talk to them sooner, refer them to some of the web pages listed in the crime web site. For example, the National Center for Victims of Crime offers useful information on common crime victim experiences as well as specific web pages on campus crime. You might also explain that you did not feel ready to talk about your experience until now.

  5. Some of the general self-care strategies for crime victims can help you prepare to approach faculty/staff about your situation. For example, the National Center for Victims of Crime recommends three self-care steps:

    • physical calming--activities like breathing and relaxation exercises, meditation, general physical exercise or yoga)
    • emotional calming--including positive self-talk or getting support from others)
    • critical thinking/creativity--thinking about what you need academically and how to discuss those needs with a faculty or staff member. Practicing what you want to say with a trusted friend or professional first can help you present yourself in the most effective way.

    Sample statements informing a faculty/staff member that you have been the victim of a crime:

    “I wanted to let you know that I was recently the victim of a crime and have found it difficult to concentrate on my academic work since this happened. I would appreciate being given an extension on the paper that is due February 15.”
    “Last Saturday I was robbed at gunpoint near my dorm. I am getting help with what happened but I am still pretty upset. I would appreciate an extension on the paper that is due February 15.”
    “I was the victim of a crime earlier this week and have been feeling pretty upset. I am getting help with this but would like to request taking the next two days off of work.”

 

 

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