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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.

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.

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