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How to Help Someone in Need

Believe them, first and foremost.
Individuals rarely create false reports/stories of victimizations. Assume that they are telling you the truth and that he or she trusted you enough to share this information.

Remember, the victim is never to blame. Do not blame the victim regardless of the circumstances surrounding the sexual assault, even if they:

  • Were drinking, had drunk too much, or used drugs prior to the assault
  • Were on a date or the attacker was a friend, classmate, boyfriend or ex-boyfriend or spouse
  • Have been sexually intimate with the perpetrator or others prior to the assault
  • Had sex with the perpetrator the day , week or month before the assault
  • Were unable to fight back or say "no"
  • Were wearing provocative clothing
  • Were at a bar or club

View your friend as a survivor, not a helpless victim.
Remember that the healing process is a gradual progression. Show patience, understanding, and support during this process. Keep in mind that your friend has survived a violent criminal act and s/he is to be seen as a strong, brave and resilient individual.

Acknowledge your own fears and possible misconceptions related to sexual assault.
Educate yourself on the concept of sexual assault including definitions, myths, stats, short and long term effects as well as the healing Process. If you need support or have additional questions, please call the RVSP Program at 817- 272-0260.

Be available.
If a friend discloses an incident, he or she needs your support. Talking to them may help improve the situation and be the first step towards the healing process.

Be attentive.
Listen to them. Know that there is no "correct" way to respond. The important thing is that you talk to your friend in a supportive and reassuring manner. Don't judge them or their actions.

Comfort your friend.
Assure your friend that he or she is not alone.

Assist your friend.
Let your friend know that there are people and resources on campus and in the community who can help. Please call the Relationship Violence & Sexual Assault Prevention (RVSP) Program (817-272-9250), UTA Police (817-272-3003), Counseling Services (817-272-3671), Mental Health Services (817-272-2771) or Rape Crisis of Tarrant County (877-701-7233) for assistance. If your friend does not feel comfortable seeking those resources, encourage your friend to seek support from friends or family. This support can include having a safe place to go or sleep, emotional support, academic support, financial support, etc.

Have patience.
Give your friend time to respond and make their own decisions. Don't push them into taking steps they aren't ready to take and don't assume that you know what is best for them.

What you can say to a friend

  • Are you okay? I'm concerned about you.
  • I'm afraid for your safety.
  • It's not your fault. You didn't deserve it. You deserve better.
  • I'm not going to tell you what to do. What you do is fine with me.
  • You know, there's a number to call to find out more about this. Please know that I have the number, if you ever want it.
  • I will be here for you when and if you ever need me.

Source: RAINN 2007, USDOJ 2000, TAASA 2007, DHHS 2007

Checklist for a Sexual Assault

Stay with the victim.
Your friend could greatly benefit if you were to accompany her/him when seeking medical care at the hospital or at subsequent follow up visits, when meeting with Sexual Assault Response Coordinator at UTA, when meeting with Student and Judicial Affairs or when meeting with the Police Department if allowed.

Find a safe place to go.
Locate a safe place away from the attacker and out of danger. If you're injured, go straight to the emergency room. Arlington Memorial Hospital has doctors, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE nurses) and counselors who have been trained to care for someone who has been sexually assaulted.

Preserve all physical evidence of the assault.
Do not shower, bathe, douche, urinate, drink, wash your hands, brush your teeth or change your clothes if you have been sexually assaulted. I know this is very difficult to do but it will preserve evidence to be used later on if you decide to file a police report and press charges. Also, if you have been the victim of forced oral sex, please do not eat, drink, or smoke, again to preserve evidence. If you must change your clothes, please put each article of clothing is a separate PAPER Bag. Do not put the items of clothing in a plastic bag as it contaminates the evidence. If you have to urinate, try to capture the urine in a container to be used for evidence testing. I realize this is difficult, but testing urine is the best way to discover whether or not you were given a date rape drug such as Rohypnol, GHB, Ketamine, or Valium, as these drugs quickly pass through the body and are only present in the system for about 12 hours. If the assault took place in your place of residence, please do not touch anything and leave the scene as it is.

Get medical care as soon as possible.
Arlington Memorial Hospital emergency department can provide immediate medical care for sexual assault victims as well as collect evidence by utilizing a rape kit. The Student Health Center at 817-272-2771, a local clinic or your personal physician can also assist in the treatment of sexual assault victims, including testing for STD's and pregnancy.

Seek immediate help if your friend appears to be suicidal.
Although people cope with situations in various ways, please seek immediate assistance if you feel like the mental health of your friend is unstable. Please call UTA Police at 817-272-3003, Mental Health Services at UTA at 817-272-2771 or the National Suicide hotlines at 1-800 SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273 TALK (8255) available 24 hours a day.

Advocate that your friend seek additional avenues of support.
Help identify a support system for the survivor (friends, family, students, student groups, faith-based organizations, counseling, etc). Encourage him or her to seek assistance from the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator at UTA, from UTA Student Health Services, from UTA Counseling Services or from the Tarrant County Women's Center Rape Crisis and Victim Services at 817-927-2737.

Be aware of common reactions to sexual assault your friend may display.
Assure your friend/loved one that all or none of these reactions is normal and part of the healing process:

Anger Fear
Embarrassment Denial
Anxiety Sleep Disturbances
Mood Swings Helplessness
Eating Changes Substance Abuse
Crying or Yelling Calm and Unaffected Manner
Suicidal Thoughts  

Recovery Model

Respect Model

Checklists for Assisting Someone in Need

Sexual Assault

Intimate Partner Violence

Stalking

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