Seeking help when trapped at home with an abuser


Kathryn O’Connor

As more classes move online, some students find themselves trapped in unsafe and/or hostile living situations at home. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

UNO provides resources for students who find themselves confined to their homes in unsafe, hostile or abusive situations after many classes have moved online for the Fall 2020 semester.

Nicole Naatz, Victim and Survivor Advocate in the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC), affirms that all circumstances contrast with one another, and there is no one “right” way to seek help.

“Students have several options or resources on campus and can utilize whichever resources feel right to them in a situation they have experienced or are experiencing,” Naatz says. “Each situation and individual is unique and has different dynamics.”

For those who wish to report, choices include instructions about how to file a report with the appropriate law enforcement agencies and steps to register a formal complaint with the University. The advocates in the GSRC can educate survivors on all of their rights, provide support throughout the reporting process and navigate the outcome.

Staff is also available to assess if a student is deemed safe and establish a safety plan based on the evaluation. Additional support can consist of accommodating measures such as no-contact orders, guidance with academic difficulties, class schedules and on-campus living arrangements.

Sarah Weil, the interim Title IX coordinator, detailed the privacy students are promised when they share instances of sexual misconduct or sexual violence.

“Reports received by the Title IX Office are considered confidential, which means they are not shared publicly. The information that is reported is only shared with those directly involved in the Title IX process,” Weil says.

However, reporting is not the only option for individuals who find themselves trapped in a threatening position. The Women’s Center of Advancement (WCA), an organization in Omaha that is dedicated to aiding survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and stalking recommends the following:

  • Establish a routine of remaining connected to friends and family if possible, through technology or socially distanced in-person contact.
  • Confide in trusted individuals about what is occurring at home.
  • Take breaks outside, away from the house if able.
  • Consider what locations at the place of residence are easy to get in and out of during a conflict.
  • Create a code word to indicate when immediate help is needed.
  • Collect and hide an “escape bag” that contains important documents, medications, keys and other essential items.

“UNO has so many pieces in place to support students experiencing circumstances out of their control,” Naatz says. “If you are being impacted by sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, sexual harassment or stalking and would like to talk about resources, please contact UNO Advocacy or any of the below offices for support.”

Connect with Naatz at or the GSRC Office at (402) 554-2890 for individualized advocacy and both on-campus and community resources.