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 don’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.