How to Help a Friend
You can make a profound difference in your friend’s life if they disclose to you that they have been sexually assaulted. Studies show that a survivor of sexual assault is significantly affected throughout her/his recovery by the actions and attitudes of the people in her/his support system. Your willingness to listen, openness, and nonjudgmental support may be a key factor in her/his progress from victim to survivor.
- Tell them you believe them. One of the myths around sexual assault is that people make it up and are not telling the truth. In fact, only 1-2% of reported sexual assaults are falsely reported-which is the same for other crimes.
- Allow them to share with you what details they feel comfortable with. Don’t ask prying questions about what happened.
- Be okay with silence. Sometimes, just having someone to sit with and be with is more than enough to show you care and support her/him.
- Respect her/his decisions about what she/he wants: who to tell, whether or not to report to police, what makes her/him feel safe, etc.
- Give them options, and the resources (check the resource page out for information), but allow them to choose which one, if any, they want to use.
- Do not tell others about what your friend has disclosed to you. However, it is important to take care of yourself. You are welcome to use Counseling Services or the Director for Wellness & Prevention Education to process your feelings. The exception to this is if you are a mandatory reporter (i.e., RA, staff, etc.), you must follow procedures for reporting to your supervisor or the Title IX Coordinator.
Remember- you can make a huge difference in the person’s recover by just being supportive and being there. You don’t need to have all the answers, just need to provide support and empathy.