SARP offers many services to BU students who are survivors of interpersonal violence and other traumas. This includes:
- A 24-hour crisis line
- Individual and group counseling
We are also able to refer students to services on- and off-campus, including legal counsel and medical care. Our services are provided by counselors (e.g., clinical social workers) who have substantial training in crisis response and trauma therapy. Our services are free of charge and we do not bill your insurance. See below for more in-depth descriptions of each service.
If you would like to access SARP services please contact us by calling 617.353.7277 (SARP). To book a non-urgent counseling session online, use Patient Connect. Select “Messages” > “Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center.”
What to Expect When Calling SARP
When you reach out to SARP – whether in person or by phone (617-353-7277) – you will be treated with respect and compassion. You will be asked questions like “What brings you in today?”, “Can you tell me what services you are looking for?” or “Can you tell me a little bit about what’s going on?”.
We ask these questions to best direct your call and ensure you won’t be better served by another department. You can just provide a brief summary, specific details aren’t needed.
We strive to be a supportive, nonjudgmental and affirming resource for all survivors of interpersonal violence and trauma. We empower survivors to make the best decisions for themselves. This includes if, when, and how you report your experiences to the University or other authorities.
SARP counselors do not disclose information to anyone without your expressed, written consent. This protected information includes the fact that you are receiving services from us. We do not share your information with the University (such as professors or administrators), reporting authorities (such as BUPD or Boston Police), or your family (such as your parents). The only rare situations where we would break this confidentiality is if we are concerned you might hurt yourself or someone else, or if a vulnerable person is being harmed.
SARP offers a 24/7/365 crisis line for students who have experienced trauma. When you call after hours, a SARP counselor will answer the phone, ask you about your issue, and help you come up with an immediate plan. You can be assured this conversation is confidential. The counselor will provide you with information and options to consider and will help you weigh those options.
Sometimes students will decide to go to the emergency room or police station. In these cases, the SARP counselor will offer to accompany you. You can also choose to have the counselor follow along remotely by phone if you prefer, or go with a friend or alone. At the end of the call, the counselor will also discuss a long-term plan, which might include coming into SARP for a follow-up meeting with the counselor.
Some survivors will have mental health symptoms following their trauma; symptoms such as depression and anxiety. SARP provides ongoing individual counseling for these students. Each counselor tailors their counseling sessions to the needs of the survivor and the symptoms they experience. Often the counselor will provide education about how trauma impacts survivors, and ways of coping and healing. Various types of counseling exist and if SARP counselors do not provide what you are seeking, we can help refer you to counselors in the community who do.
One specialized type of counseling that all SARP counselors offer is Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), an evidence-based structured program that takes up to 12 sessions. CPT has been shown to reduce symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by helping survivors evaluate and change upsetting thoughts that follow their traumatic experience. Exercises and worksheets are completed daily between sessions and then discussed with the counselor at meetings that happen weekly or twice-weekly.
SARP counselors are specially trained to assist survivors of interpersonal violence and other traumas. For many survivors, this means weighing your options regarding safety, medical care, reporting options, and academic support.
- Safety Planning: Sometimes survivors are still at risk of harm when they speak with us. For instance, you might be in a relationship with an abusive partner. Part of advocacy is safety planning, which includes assessing your risk of harm and coming up with a plan to mitigate as much of that risk as we can.
- Reporting: Some survivors want to report to the University or to the police; others might never want to report. Part of advocacy is discussing your options regarding reporting. A SARP counselor will NEVER tell you what you have to do, but will help you weigh the decision. If you choose to report, a SARP counselor will assist you through the process, including accompanying you to appointments and meetings.
- Medical Advocacy: Sometimes survivors are concerned about their physical health due to the trauma they experienced. Part of advocacy is helping students understand the potential impact on their physical health and options to address that impact. For instance, a SARP counselor can assist a survivor of sexual assault access a Sexual Assault Nurse Examination (SANE) at an emergency room. At this visit, a specially trained nurse evaluates and treats physical harm and sexually transmitted infections. This nurse can also collect evidence, in the event that you would like to file a report.
- Academic Advocacy: Some survivors will experience a disruption in their coursework. Advocacy can include academic support to help you address this disruption. SARP counselors can assist you in requesting leniency from professors or even help you take a leave of absence from school.
Throughout the school year, SARP offers various support groups and workshops for students who have experienced traumatic events. These groups are facilitated by SARP counselors. Most groups will have a small number of BU students with a similar experience (e.g., sexual assault) who meet regularly.
Each semester SARP offers a trauma workshop that is more education-based, and explains how traumatic events can impact an individual’s wellbeing, particularly their mental health. There are also groups for undergraduate and graduate sexual assault survivors and a group for students who have experienced complicated or unhealthy relationships.
Learn more about groups and workshops here.
Some survivors will identify a need that cannot be met at SARP. In these instances, a SARP counselor will help connect you to other providers, departments, or organizations. For instance, SARP counselors do not provide medications but can refer you to psychiatry providers at BU Behavioral Medicine for evaluation and treatment. We also work closely with the Behavioral Medicine Referral Coordinator when survivors are seeking care off-campus. Two common areas of need that SARP cannot address are medical and legal:
- Medical: Some survivors have needs that require visits to medical providers such as psychiatrists and specialty doctors. We can help connect you to Student Health Services or off-campus medical providers.
- Legal: Some survivors need support from a lawyer for help with restraining orders or filing criminal complaints. We can connect you to lawyers who specialize in restraining orders, immigration, or other legal areas, generally at no or low cost to you.
Learn more about becoming a SARP Ambassador, Peer Educator, or Actor!
Step Up Step In BU (SUSIBU)
Step Up Step In BU (SUSIBU) is the University’s primary sexual violence prevention program!
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