A Message from Patricia M. Lampkin, Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer
Today I am writing you with the same sadness and grief that so many of you are feeling as the result of Yeardley Love’s death. I want to reassure you how much we care about you – your health, safety, and how you go about dealing with the emotions of this tragic event. I also want to remind you that members of my staff, as well as other resources, are available to you if you need support.
This is a difficult time for the University community, especially for those of you who knew Yeardley as a friend, sorority sister, teammate, or classmate. You may be having trouble understanding how such an unthinkable act could occur in our midst. You also may be concerned about yourself or your friends if you have experienced or witnessed abuse in a relationship.
We recognize the stress you are under right now with exams and the end of the school year. As you deal with both academic stress and the emotional trauma of this week, some reactions and processing on your part may be delayed until the coming weeks, perhaps well into the summer when you are not at the University.
This message is long, but I hope you will read it carefully and find it useful for your own individual situation. Included are practical guidelines should you need them now or in the future. You will find the following information:
Dealing with Grief
We recognize that other students have passed away this year as the result of tragedy. Anyone affected by these losses will likely feel saddened and grieved. Grief is personal and occurs at an individual pace, but friends, family, and clergy can be extremely helpful during the grieving process. It is important to seek comfort and to maintain your own health during this time. Some suggestions:
- Spend time with people who bring comfort to you. Your friends are most likely at the top of that list at this stage in your life. Talk to your parents, too, and let them know how they can help. When you are most comfortable, you can best care for yourself.
- Remember other sources of comfort, such as pets, music, and art.
- Find healthy ways to have fun. This is a basic human need. Don’t let feelings of guilt (“How can I have fun at a time like this?”) deprive you of this key element in your life.
- Let the grief unfold in the way that feels right for you. It’s OK to think about the tragedy, or not to. Try not to judge your own reaction or that of others.
Signs of Depression
If grief becomes depression, then it is important to seek professional help. The signs of depression include:
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits.
- Increased irritability.
- Withdrawal from others.
- Worsening concentration.
- Getting stuck in sad or stressful thoughts.
- Constant worry.
- Predominant sadness.
- Physical symptoms, such as fatigue, anxiety, frequent headaches, muscle soreness, and gastrointestinal distress.
IMPORTANT: Thoughts of harming yourself or others need immediate attention. If you are thinking about harming yourself in any way, you should get help right away – call 911, call a clergy member, call a physician with whom you are close, call a family member or trusted friend. If a friend is talking about harming him/herself or ot hers, do what you can to get that person to reach out to professional resources, ideally a mental health professional.
Signs of an Abusive Relationship
If you, a friend, or an acquaintance is in a relationship that could involve abuse, you may experience or witness one or more of the following:
- Social withdrawal of the partner who is under duress.
- Efforts by one partner to seclude or control the other (for example: criticizing friends; restricting or taking access to passwords, cell phones, computers, keys, money, etc.).
- Frequent and intense arguing.
- Physical marks.
- Experts point out that an individual who is enduring abuse may not necessarily exhibit a stereotypical demeanor, such as being shy or meek. Likewise, those who appear socially comfortable or confident can still be experiencing mistreatment.
Where to Call When You Need Help
These University resources are available to you at any time you feel your safety is threatened, you witness others being harmed, or you or a friend is dealing with emotional difficulties:
- Call 911. Wherever you are, whether at UVA or far from the Grounds, your first instinct should be to call 911 if you or someone else is in immediate danger.
- Office of the Dean of Students : 434-924-7133. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays; after hours, call University Police (434-924-7166) and ask to be connected with the dean-on-call who is available 24/7.
- Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) : 434-243-5150 for appointments; 434-972-7004 for after-hours emergencies. For more urgent needs, walk-in services are available Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. See the Web site for resources about depression, suicide and how to get help during a crisis.
- UVA Women’s Center: 434-982-2252. The center provides counseling services to women who are experiencing domestic or intimate partner abuse. See the center’s Web site for a variety of related resources.
- Medical Emergencies: Always call 911. This reminder bears repeating: Students who call 911 for medical emergencies will not face any disciplinary action for doing so. It is critical that you always get immediate help for yourself or your friends. Even a brief delay in calling 911 can be critical.
Other University Resources
- Just Report It: If you witness an incident of bias or abuse directed toward a student, you are urged to report it to an authority. One way in which you can do this is through “Just Report It,” the University’s online bias incident reporting system. The system enables you to report any situation in which you see a student treated wrongly – whether verbally, physically, or in writing — by another individual. The perpetrator may or may not be a student.
- SAPA (Sexual Assault Peer Advisers) : This group of trained U.Va. students maintains a list of resources and ways to help friends involved in abusive relationships. Contact the group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- One-in-Four: This all-male peer advocacy group at U.Va. provides resources and educational programming about sexual violence to student groups and survivors.
Getting Help When You are No Longer in Charlottesville
The effects of this tragedy are likely to continue into the summer, when you may be away from the resources available on Grounds. If you are at home, your family can be an obvious source of support. As mentioned before, talk to your parents, and let them know how they can help. The same is true for friends.
Here are some additional ways you can find support if you get overwhelmed when you are no longer in Charlottesville:
Call CAPS (434-243-5150). They can help you find a mental health professional in your area by talking through options with you and often making a referral.
- Talk to your primary care physician, gynecologist, or any other health care professional. Often he or she can provide excellent support and medication, if necessary. You can also receive a referral to a mental health professional, if appropriate.
- Go to your insurance company’s Web site to find a list of providers in your area.
- Talk to someone in your church, temple or mosque.
Resources in the Greater Charlottesville Area
- SARA (Sexual Assault Resource Agency) : This organization helps those who are experiencing intimate partner abuse. They also have a 24-hour hotline available to any student or community member who feels unsafe or who just needs someone to talk to confidentially. You can call the hotline anytime at 434-977-7273.
- SHE (Shelter for Help in Emergency) : SHE provides a variety of services, including a 24-hour hotline, similar to SARA for anyone who feels unsafe and needs a kind, confidential ear. You can call the SHE hotline anytime at 434-293-8509.
Other Health Reminders
- Use of alcohol or other drugs worsens depression and anxiety. It also can increase the risk of both depression and physical/emotional abuse because it reduces impulse control and impedes judgment.
- Look out for one another. Think about what support truly entrails and try to support your friends’ health. Don’t hesitate to say something to a friend if you witness interactions that you would define as troubling and damaging from a health standpoint.
- Be mindful of each other’s alcohol and drug use and how that can affect judgment.