Help a Friend
Students who have experienced a sexual misconduct will often disclose their experience to a friend or loved one first. This can be overwhelming for the person in the supportive role who may not know what to do or say to be helpful. It is important for victims to have people in their lives who will be empathetic, supportive and knowledgeable of available resources. Below you will find tips on how to help a friend who has experienced a sexual misconduct.
What You Can Do for a Victim
- Believe them.
- Listen without judgment.
- Encourage them to seek medical attention.
- Let them know that you support them.
- Provide resources (Student Victim Assistance is a good starting point. Student Victim Assistance can inform a student of their rights, reporting options and connect them with many other resources)
What You Can Say to a Victim
It is difficult to find the words at times to show you support and encourage a survivor. Here are some ways that you may express your concern to a victim of crime:
- I’m so sorry that this happened to you.
- What can I do to help?
- What can I do to help you feel safe?
- I can’t imagine what you may be going through right now.
- This was not your fault.
- What you’re feeling right now is normal.
Empowering a Friend
It is important to allow the victim or survivor to make choices pertaining to their next steps. In allowing them to make decisions, big or small, you are helping them to regain a sense of control. A supportive person can be instrumental in providing resources, encouragement and information to help a student to make informed choices related to their trauma.
Remember that a victim may ultimately choose not to take legal action or seek counseling. They may just want to forget what happened, which is a completely normal reaction. It is important to not attempt to shame them into taking action or become judgmental if they do not make a decision that you feel is right. Provide resources and information, ensure that they are safe and support their right to choose. This is difficult but, know that what they are experiencing is overwhelming and we must respect their right to do what is comfortable to them at that time. For more information or for consultation, please contact Student Victim Assistance.