Experiencing trauma can impact a survivor/victim’s comfortability with safety, so it is important to consider ways that the survivor/victim can personally intervene during a possible future crisis. Having an awareness of how to make decisions gives the survivor/victim autonomy on how they decide to move forward during their healing process.
In SMSS, we prioritize the safety of survivors/victims, and we stand along with them as they adopt their own adaptive healing practices.
- Be aware of your environment. When in a building, know where the exits are located and identify a safe space within or nearby.
- Know campus resources. Identify confidential support services on campus like Sexual Misconduct Support Services and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). CAPS is able to assist individuals who are experiencing mental health concerns and additional forms of crisis. The Equal Opportunity Services (EOS) office can aid individuals with completing formal reports regarding their experience of sexual misconduct or discrimination. Additionally, the Student Accessibility Center can provide learning and engagement accommodations to help students be successful academically. Trauma can impact various aspects of a survivor/victim’s life, so support services are essential to begin one’s healing work. If you don’t know where to go, SMSS is here to help students get connected to various campus resources.
- Know community resources. This includes shelters, financial organizations, and organizations dedicated to serving individuals impacted by sexual and domestic violence such as the Houston Area Women’s Center in Houston or The Montrose Center. SMSS can also help you with resources in the community.
- Computer Safety. When browsing for support resources, utilize private/incognito browser settings. Always be sure to exit out of all tabs and clear cookies from your computer.
- Phone Safety. When saving support services contact information, save them under code names. Delete call or text history, as well as navigation history.
- Adjust your routine. If you typically walk alone, request a Security Escort. If you drive, work with Parking Services to change your parking location. Identify Emergency and Information Callboxes around you; these allow you to directly contact the University Police dispatch center.
- Remain safe in your living environment. If you have concerns with individuals having access to your living space, request a room change by contacting Student Housing and Residential Life. If you do not reside in campus housing, SMSS can assist you with locating rehousing options. If you live with the person who has created harm, have a ready-to-go bag in a safe place. This bag can contain important documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, legal documents, medications, cash, etc.
- Advocate for yourself. Be willing to establish a no contact order with EOS or UHPD. This permits someone from trespassing in the spaces that you are in. EOS and SMSS can also support you with a course schedule change if you are in the same class as the person that caused harm.
- Identify a safe friend(s). Instead of going alone to places, go with a safe friend. Establish a safe word that will allow them to know when danger may be near.
- Avoid walking alone and in isolated places.
- Keep doors and windows locked at all times.
- Seek options to enhance safety (protective orders).
- Avoid putting your location or any identifying information on social media.
- Never answer unknown or blocked numbers.
- Never answer the door for strangers or unannounced guests.
- Keep track of any texts that are threatening or harassing.
It’s also important to know that, with or without safety measures in place, no violence taken against you is your fault. Remember, safety planning is about engaging in behaviors that help you feel empowered and increase your sense of safety.