How to Help a Friend
FOR EMERGENCIES OR IMMEDIATE HELP, PLEASE CALL 911 or 44-911 (from an on-campus phone)
OR Campus Safety at 773.508.6039
If a friend or someone you know was sexually assaulted, they may experience a variety of reactions. For some, the impact of sexual assault can be immediate and short-term. For others, the effects can be long-lasting. Your friend may find it helpful to speak with a counselor about these how they are feeling.
YOU CAN HELP:
- Listen. A friend may confide in you ten minutes or ten years after the assault. At that time,it’s not about having all the answers or giving advice - focus on being an active listener. Allow the person to talk, but do not push for details.
- Believe your friend. A survivor’s experiences are valid. Be sure your friend knows how much you support them.
- Don't blame the survivor. No one deserves to be sexually assaulted. Avoid searching for things your friend should have done. Survivors often blame themselves and need to know it was not their fault.
- Let the survivor control the situation. Let your friend determine the pace of healing. Help your friend understand the options available, and encourage your friend to keep their options open. Most important, allow your friend to make their own decisions.
- Encourage the survivor to get medical attention as soon as possible if the assault was recent. Your friend can receive medical attention from a private doctor, clinic, or hospital emergency room. By law, Emergency Room staff must contact the police when they treat sexual assault victims. The police will ask your friend to file a report, but they do not have to talk to the police or file a report if they do not want to. Be sure to let your friend know they can pursue an evidence collection kit whether or not they choose to speak with the police and/or file a police report. Make sure someone the survivor trusts is able to go with them to seek medical attention.
- Don't be afraid to ask for outside help. Your friend may need medical attention or counseling. Offer to help your friend access supportive services. Regardless of how much time has passed since the assault, the survivor can receive counseling and referrals from the Wellness Center.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF:
- Understand your own feelings. You may also feel confused, hurt, angry, or frightened. Such feelings are normal.
- Don't be afraid to ask for outside help. Find someone other than the survivor to talk with about your feelings. Talking with someone else may help you understand your own emotions and give you a clearer perspective on the situation. Counseling is available at the Wellness Center.
- Know and respect your own limits. There is only so much you can do to help your friend. You can provide support, compassion, and companionship when your friend wants it, but try not to make commitments that you can't fulfill.
- Remember that it was not your fault. You may feel guilty, thinking that somehow you could have prevented your friend's sexual assault. Don't forget that sexual assault is a violent crime and you are not responsible for someone else's actions.
- Realize that coping with sexual assault is a long-term process.