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How to Help a Friend

How to Help a Friend

As a friend or family member of a survivor, you have been affected by the assault, also. It is important that you seek out support for yourself and address your own reactions to the violence, so that you are able to provide the best possible support to the survivor.

How can I help a friend? 

  • BELIEVE the survivor, and never ask questions that may blame them (such as “Why did you go back to their room?” or “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”).
  • LISTEN to the survivor, reassuring that it was not her/his fault.
  • INFORM the survivor about options and resources that are available.
  • SUPPORT the survivor. Do not give advice, but help her/him regain control by supporting her/his choices about whether or not to report or seek help.

What are the possible impacts of these situations?

Every survivor responds to sexual and interpersonal violence in a unique manner. Some effects may occur immediately, while others may show up later.

Common reactions may include (but are not limited to):

  • Fear, loss of trust, isolation
  • Disbelief, denial, shock, numbness
  • Self-blame, shame, humiliation
  • Depression, sadness, anger
  • Problems sleeping, nightmares, anxiety
  • Changes in sexual behaviors and comfort with sex (either an increase or decrease)
  • Loss of a sense of control, helplessness
  • Changes in relationships with other people