Patrick Vandermeiren is a student counsellor at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences in Leeuwarden. He tells you what healthcare professionals associated to your educational programme can do for you after you have had a traumatic experience.
‘If you have had a traumatic sexual experience, then that can affect you for quite some time. It can affect your studies, for example. You might have trouble concentrating or sleeping, or anxiety. Or struggle with practical matters, such as having to go to therapy during class or attend your court hearing on the day of an important exam. It is good to discuss these things with the available professional at your educational institution, such as a dean or student psychologist. We will look for a solution with you and support you where necessary. I even went to the courthouse with a student once. I explained how a trial works and how the judge determines a punishment – and that this has nothing with the student themselves. This helped the student understand the situation.
Someone to talk to
If you need someone to talk to, we are also here. Please know that we have heard a lot before, and that we also know that a bad sexual experience is never your fault. Someone else crossed the line with you. It can be difficult to talk about your experience, for example because the perpetrator is someone you know or because you are ashamed, but please know that talking about it can really help your recovery. You do not need to solve this on your own, and you probably won’t be able to. So please, share and let someone in. You can talk to us, or to a trusted friend.
You’ll be relieved to hear that we have professional confidentiality. And a network of professional partners we can refer you to. In this case the Sexual Assault Center. And please know: To us nothing is weird or difficult. Unfortunately sexual assault happens all the time, and it should be talked about.’
After an unwanted sexual experience it is good that someone is there for the victim. Your support can make a difference. But what is the best thing to do? Check out our tips for loved ones.
Have you also experienced an unpleasant sexual experience and need help or advice?
Then contact the Sexual Assault Center. We are here for you!