Supporting a Friend
When someone has experienced sexual violence, chances are they will turn to a friend for help or support first.
How you respond to your friend is very important. Consider the following ways of showing support:
- Thank them for coming to you - this takes a great deal of courage and strength
- Listen without judgment
- Let them know what happened is not their fault
- Don't press your friend for details - allow them to share information when they are ready
- Help connect your friend with University and /or community resources
- Offer to go with them to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, to file a report or to the Counseling Center.
- Be patient. It may take your friend some time to process the events of the incident and to decide how to proceed.
- Consider going to a counselor yourself - it can be difficult supporting a friend through a traumatic experience.
Supporting a Friend Experiencing an Unhealthy Relationship
It can be difficult and frustrating to see a friend being hurt in a relationship. If a friend comes to you, you donâ€™t need to have the all the answers, but below are some guidelines of how to approach the conversation:
- Be sensitive - Let your friend know you are concerned and that you want to offer support.
- Believe them - Many survivors feel afraid to come forward because they feel others won't believe their story.
- Help your friend recognize the red flags - Physical or emotional abuse is not normal and it is not your friend's fault.
- Help your friend develop a safety plan. Having a plan can help your friend avoid dangerous situations. Encourage your friend to identify resources that can assist in this process.
- Encourage your friend to seek out resources. There are many resources on campus, both confidential and private, that can support your friend. Offer to help them set an appointment.
- Honor your limits. Supporting a friend can be difficult, so make sure you are practicing self care.