Information for Families

Information for families

Preparing your student for college can be both exciting and worrisome for parents/guardians, families, or caregivers. There is so much in transition during this time, it might feel difficult to figure out the best ways to prepare both yourself and your student for all that's to come. It's important to remember that you're not alone in this journey, and that UNH's extensive campus resources are available to help. Here at SHARPP, we hope to provide families with the tools and resources necessary to help establish a safe and healthy community for UNH students. When it comes to the issue of interpersonal violence (sexual violence, relatshionship abuse, stalking, and/or harassment), we aim to provide some clarity around the reality of IPV at UNH and answer some of the most frequently asked questions parents/guardians, families, and caregivers tend to have!

If you have additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

FAQ's About Interpersonal Violence at UNH

What exactly is considered interpersonal violence/IPV?

Interpersonal Violence (IPV) is an umbrella term that refers to: sexual assault, stalking, sexual harassment, and relationship abuse. You might hear people use terms such as rape, domestic violence, intimate partner violence – these are all synonyms for, or specific versions of, the terms listed above. Research shows that IPV happens at particularly high rates on college campuses in the United States, with both sexual violence and stalking being some of the more prevalent forms of IPV for young adults under the age of 25[1,2]

Sexual assault is any sexual act directed against another person, that is forcible and/or against that person’s will; or, where the victim is incapable of giving consent. Sexual assault as defined by NH RSA 632-A:1 is illegal in the state of New Hampshire. Additionally, UNH has clear policies detailed in their Student Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities (SRRR) regarding harassment, sexual misconduct, and violence. 

Talk to your student about consent. To ensure that sexual encounters are consensual, communication before and during ANY sexual activity is a must! Consent is a verbal agreement that people share where they seek (ask) and receive expressed permission (get an affirmative answer) to engage in sexual activity. Although it may be possible to seek and express permission without words (example: a head nod), consent is far clearer when done with words and when both parties are not under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs.

Consent, It’s simple as Tea! Take a look at this video to better understand the concept of getting consent.

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Does SHARPP exist at UNH because a lot of rapes happen here?

No. SHARPP was created in the late 1980s in response to a rape on campus that received local and national attention. SHARPP was created to help provide adequate support services to survivors and as a means through which the University could be educated on the issues of sexual assault, consent, relationship abuse, stalking and sexual harassment.

Sexual assault at UNH is no more prevalent than at any other college campus. College-aged women are at an increased risk of sexual assault. National statistics show that 1 in 4 women aged 18-25 will be victims of sexual assault and 1 in 10 men aged 18-25 will be victims of sexual assault.

On all college campuses, non-stranger rape is much more common than stranger rape. In fact, 85% of sexual assaults of women on college campuses are completed by someone the victim knows such as a dating partner, friend, or acquaintance. The trauma caused by a non-stranger rape is no less severe than a rape committed by a stranger. It is important to keep this in mind when you are discussing ways your student can be safe when they are on campus.

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What do I need to know about getting consent and the Student Code of Conduct?

Within the UNH Student Rights, Rules, and Responsibilities, UNH lists Sexual Misconduct and it's against UNH policy. Sexual misconduct includes any activity as defined by the NH state law that occurs “without seeking and receiving expressed permission (consent)” and when the other person's “ability to give expressed permission (consent)” is compromised due to mental/physical disability and/ or mental/physical incapacitation due to substance ingestion. This means, any sexual activity without consent is sexual misconduct and is sexual assault and is a violation of the UNH Code of Conduct, as well as a violation of NH state law.

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How will my student hear about SHARPP?

SHARPP collaborates with Residential Life and other Student Life offices to provide educational programs about sexual assault, resources, and consequences. Many of these programs are offered specifically for first-year students.

We also offer a wide variety of educational programming in academic classrooms, Fraternity and Sorority Life, residential halls and in the MUB. Our educational programming is designed specifically for UNH students to help them learn more about sexual assault, consent, healthy relationships, abusive relationships, stalking, the pivotal role of bystanders and ways to care for themselves and others. In addition, information about SHARPP is readily available at information tables around campus, online and by word-of-mouth referrals by other students, UNH staff and faculty members.

During the academic year, we run several awareness campaigns that educate the community about relationship abuse (October), stalking (January) and sexual assault (April). 

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How can my student reach SHARPP?

SHARPP can be reached in several ways, including:

  • Our 24/7/365 support hotline, (603) 862-7233 that is available even on holidays and during school breaks.  You don't need to be experiencing a crisis to call! We also work with those who are supporting someone who has experienced violence.
  • By texting us at (603) 606-9393 or chatting with an advocate online (available 9am-3:30pm). 
  • Visiting our office located in Wolff House, directly in front of UNH Health and Wellness. In-person support is available Monday-Friday 9am-3:30pm. Students can walk in and meet with an advocate, no appointment is required, though they can be made.
  • During business hours, SHARPP can be reached by calling our office at (603) 862-3494. (Note our office is closed the week between Christmas and New Years, and also shuts down during curtailed operations.)

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What should I tell my student about date rape drugs?

Alcohol is the #1 date rape drug. Alcohol may make it difficult to clearly evaluate a potentially dangerous situation and to resist a sexual assault. Perpetrators of sexual violence know this and often use alcohol as a way to disable their targets.

If your student chooses to drink, talk with them about drinking in low-risk ways...

  • Not drinking on an empty stomach
  • Alternating alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks
  • Never leaving drinks unattended
  • Never accepting drinks from someone they just met or don’t know
  • Making sure that they surround themselves with friends who will keep each other safe when they are out drinking

Learning more about alcohol at UNH

In addition to alcohol, however, students should be aware that date rape drugs are present on college campuses and in society in general. They can be colorless, odorless and tasteless. Signs that one might have been drugged include:

  • Feeling more intoxicated than usual when drinking the same amount 
  • Waking up feeling especially hung over and being unable to account for periods of time
  • Being able to remember taking a drink, but being unable to recall events after that.
  • Feeling as though you have had sex, but not being able to recall part or all of the incident.

If a person feels that they might have been drugged, it’s important to inform the police and medical staff as soon as possible. Blood and urine tests need to be conducted within 48 hours to determine if drugs were used.

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My student doesn’t “party,” should I worry about him/her “getting into trouble.”

Although your student may not have been into drinking or “partying” as a high school student, that may change in college. This is the first time students are living on their own and are able to make their own choices. Although not all college students drink, it is important to still talk to your student about alcohol, how to make low-risk choices, how to look out for friends who may choose to drink, and about the UNH Student Rights, Rules and Responsibilities.

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Where can my student take Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) classes?

The Rape Aggression Defense system is a national program of realistic self-defense tactics and techniques taught for women only. RAD classes are provided through the UNH Police Department. Times and dates vary depending on interest and officer availability.  Although RAD classes offer great skills for women, remember that non-stranger rape is much more common than stranger rape. The physical skills taught in this class are important but should not take the place of seeking out healthy relationships that are based on the foundations of trust, empowerment, honesty, and respect. 

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My student was raped. Is there ongoing support for them on campus?

Yes. At SHARPP, we offer free and confidential (under NH RSA-173:c) support services for individuals who have experiencedpast or current relationship abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and/or stalking. We can provide support in the following ways:

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If I suspect or know that something has happened to my student, can I call the SHARPP office to receive support?

Yes. We offer support services to parents that can be accessed during our office hours as well as through our 24/7 support line. We can help explain resources and options, discuss ways to best support your student and give you a place to express your concerns. Because our services are confidential, without your student's consent, we cannot share information about them with you, including verifying if we are providing services to them. More information can be found here.

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This won’t happen to my student, should I still know about SHARPP?

While we certainly hope that your student will not experience sexual assault, relationship abuse or stalking while a student at UNH, it’s impossible to predict who may need our services. While your student may or may not be the target of an assault, your student may need support or information about something that has happened to a friend or roommate who has been sexually assaulted, sexually harassed, or experienced relationship abuse or stalking. It’s important that you and your student are informed about SHARPP services and educated on sexual assault, relationship abuse and stalking so that they can reduce their own risk and also help support their friend(s) if needed.

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I have a son, so there is nothing I need to worry about, correct?

While a majority of sexual assaults, relationship abuse, sexual harassment, and stalking incidents involve male perpetrators and female victims, we know that men can be victims too. Men and boys are often the victims of the crimes of sexual assault, sexual abuse, and rape. In the U.S., it is estimated that about 10% of all victims are male. In many ways, the harm of sexual abuse on male victims is similar to the harm inflicted on female victims. SHARPP offers support services to all victims, regardless of gender.

Men can help end sexual violence by understanding consent and the consequences of not obtaining consent before engaging in sexual activity. Most men aren’t sexual perpetrators, however, young men need to have a solid understanding of consent and how it relates to alcohol use and/or other forms of incapacitation. 

Men can also get involved in ending violence at UNH. Sexual assault, relationship abuse, sexual harassment and stalking are not just women’s issues, they are community issues that your son should be concerned about. Your son can also choose to volunteer as a SHARPP advocate or community educator working to ending violence at UNH.  

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How can students get involved with SHARPP?

Student volunteers play a vital role at SHARPP. Student volunteers staff our 24/7 helpline, respond to after-hours calls from police and emergency rooms and provide important information to their peers through education and outreach programming. All SHARPP volunteers serve as role models to the greater UNH community.

Currently, students can opt to volunteer as either a SHARPP peer advocate or as a SHARPP community educator.

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General information about safety at UNH

  • Blue Light Safety Phones

    There are Blue Light Safety phones located around campus. Each light is specifically placed to be in sight of another light. The phones automatically dial the UNH dispatch center. The Blue Safety Lights are available and active 365 days/year. The typical response time when a light is activated is less than two minutes.

  • UNH Police Department Escort Service

    If your student is on campus late and doesn’t feel safe walking alone, they can call the UNH Police Department’s escort service at (603) 862-1427 and have a police escort meet them where they are and walk with them to their on-campus destination. We suggest that students program the escort service into their cell phones.

  • UNH Safe Rides

    Safe Rides is a program for UNH students who are off-campus at a social gathering/event and need a sober ride home. Safe Rides is available Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 11 pm to 3 am, during the academic year when classes are in session.  


    uSafeUS is a free, confidential mobile app that gives UNH students immediate access to quick-and-easy tools to leave uncomfortable situations fast, as well as comprehensive answers on how to find support if they or a friend have experienced sexual violence, relationship violence, or stalking. Students, parents, visitors, and all members of the UNH community can download the app for free from the App Store or Google Play. 

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