Victim Mentality


I was sexually harrassed by a student once.  I put it behind me and moved on, but at the back of my mind, I am worry that the same incident will somehow repeat itself.  How could I overcome this?


Counseling.  Obviously this has caused you some problems and you are anxious about it.  Seek assistance at your counseling center or other location.  There are specific therapies that have been developed (or are in a continuous state of development) that can assist you.

I went through kind of the same thing (more of a stalking situation that eventually ended up with the student in criminal court).  I don't think it's necessarily a sign of a victim mentality for you to want to protect yourself from further incidents.  If it's getting in the way of your life, such that you can't have relationships with anybody, or can't even talk to a student without a panic attack, then, yeah, seek counseling.  For that matter, counseling may be helpful no matter what, since it will give you a chance to be reassured that it's normal to be deeply affected by what happened, and that it is in no way your fault.  But just being wary now isn't automatically a problem, I don't think--it's just wise.  And, frankly, it would be wise for everyone to take certain steps to protect themselves, regardless of their past experiences with harassment.

I have some difficulty sometimes because I teach Women's Studies, and this means that students often want to seek me out as a confidante for personal issues they are grappling with, but given my past experience, I very much do not want to deal with any student on anything but coursework... I have found that engaging in certain standard precautionary measures gives me a measure of peace.  Documenting everything, never letting the conversation veer into the personal, always leaving the office door open...these are things that, for me, help to reassure me that it's less likely to happen again.  Of course, I did all those things before the stalking incident, as well...and those are exactly the things that made the legal system take me seriously when it escalated beyond anything the school security guards could handle.  So I take a lot of comfort in  the fact that I'm extra wary...maybe you could look at it that way.


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