How to Help a Friend
- If your friend tells you they have been sexual assaulted: Believe them. Your friend needs to be believed and supported. It is never the fault of the victim for being sexual assaulted. Sexual assault has nothing to do with the victim's behavior, actions or the reality of the situation.
- Support and understanding are essential. Sexual assault, like stalking and relationship abuse can cause depression, anxiety, headaches, stomach problems, sleeping problems etc... Let your friend talk as much as or as little as they need to. It is important that you listen and believe them.
- Do not respond to the assaulter.
- Advise your friend to keep evidence and document everything. You can also document any incidence you witness. Tell your friend to keep a log of the time, date, place and other details they may find of importance. Tell them to keep all e-mails, phone messages, letters, notes or social media messages. Tell them to photograph any damages to their personal possessions and any injuries they may have incurred.
- Respect Privacy. Perpetrators can be very clever about getting information so do not give any information out about your friend, no matter what they might say.
- Help them feel safe. Offer to spend time with your friend so they do not have to be alone.
- Refer your friend to Counseling and/or Domestic Abuse Center Your campus resource list provides local contact information for counselors and centers), University or local Law enforcement. They can assist you in helping your friend devise a personal safety plan, provide support and advocacy, provide them with information about local laws and University policies, investigate and prosecute the offense. These resources can assess the situation and refer your friend to counseling, legal aid, provide an escort on campus and they can be a safe place on campus where their needs will be heard and responded to Campus resource list.
- Get Support for Yourself. Sometimes the friends of victims can also feel the impact of the crime and experience emotional and physical reactions. This is called secondary victimization. Hearing about these offenses can be upsetting. You may feel angry, sad, frustrated and helpless. If you have experienced crime or other traumatic events in the past, your friend's experience might bring up memories and feelings from that time. You may want to talk about your feelings but also respect your friend's privacy. You can contact a counselor and/or a Center for help and guidance. Your campus resource list provides local contact information for counselors and centers.