Coping with Crisis
Handling the Crisis Stage
There is no one way that an individual reacts to crisis. Some common reactions to experiencing a traumatic event are:
- Fear of People, Sense of Vulnerability
- Loss of Control Over Your Own Life, Fear of the Assailant
- Anxiety, Shaking, Flashbacks, Nightmares
- Sexual Concerns
- Guilt, Shame, and Self-Blame
- Feelings of depression, thoughts of suicide
If any of these reactions are getting in the way of your routine academic or social life, there are 24 hour a day hotlines that can help you come up with a plan for coping with crisis:
- Central MN Sexual Assault Center (sexual assault, abuse, and/or stalking) at 320-251-4357
- Anna Marie’s Alliance (dating, domestic abuse or assault and/or stalking) at 320-253-6900
- Central MN Mental Health Center (mental health crisis) at 1-800-635-8008
Many survivors of sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, dating or domestic violence, and stalking go through a period where abuse is literally all they can think about. You may feel overwhelmed by any decision in your life. You may find yourself having flashbacks uncontrollably, crying all day long, or unable to work. You may dream about the abuser and be afraid to sleep. Powerful reactions are also likely if you have forgotten your abuse and are now dealing with repressed memories.
What to do if you have been a victim of a sexual assault:
- Do not shower, drink or eat, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, douche, or change your clothes, no matter how dirty or violating it may make you feel. These activities destroy important physical evidence in the event that you decide to prosecute the person who assaulted you. However, if you cannot refrain from urinating before seeking help, urinate into a clean glass jar. If you must change your clothes before seeking help, place them (including undergarments) in a brown PAPER bag. Placing clothes or all other possible pieces of evidence in a plastic bag will chemically render them useless during evidence collection procedures.
- Get medical attention. You may have hidden injuries and may want to explore options for preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. The decision to undergo a sexual assault medical exam at any hospital is most often performed by a specially trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) in the state of Minnesota. The exam is free, the decision to complete such exam does not hinge upon the immediate reporting of the sexual assault to law enforcement. The evidence will be sealed and stored appropriately immediately after completing the procedure, if an individual is not sure whether to participate in the standard reporting process right now, they can choose to have the medical forensic examination completed and evidence collected anonymously. This gives individuals the opportunity to preserve evidence that is collected at the hospital. The evidence will be preserved. Individuals can still report a crime within statute of limitations even when the physical evidence is not available. For medical attention, go to the St. Cloud Hospital Emergency Trauma Center, 1406 6th Ave N, Saint Cloud, MN 56303: 320-251-2700
- Write down everything that you remember happening, with as much detail as possible. This can help with your own healing process and in any legal action you might decide to take. This is also extremely helpful if a victim/survivor decides to report immediately to law enforcement. The process of reporting will involve questions calling for distinct detail about the sexual assault. The more detail a victim/survivor can extensively recall about their experience, the stronger their case may become when presented to the County Attorney’s office.
If you choose to make a report to law enforcement, you will report to the location where the assault/abuse occurred. If the assault occurred at St. Ben’s, you will report to St. Joseph Police Department, in case of emergency, dial 911, or contact 320-363-8250 to speak with an officer. If the assault occurred at St. John’s University, you will report to Stearns County Sheriff’s Office, in case of an emergency, dial 911, or contact 320-251-4240 to speak with an officer.
If you would like to talk about filing a formal complaint under the Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Policy of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, please contact the Title IX Office at 320-363-5943.