GIVE HELP TO A STUDENT
We all need to better understand sexual misconduct because everyone knows someone who has been targeted and everyone can contribute to the solution. We must intervene when we see someone in a vulnerable situation or sense an abuse of power.
Working with a friend, family member or partner who has experienced sexual violence is often stressful. You can reach out yourself for confidential assistance. Professionals will be able to talk with you and offer suggestions.
How to give help to the victim
Helpful things to say to a victim:
- "I believe you"
This may seem unnecessary, but it's an important message to convey. Even if you have questions or doubts about the circumstances surrounding the assault, it's vital that you interact with your loved ones as though you fully believe them.
- "It's not your fault"
Nearly all survivors question their own actions before, during and even after the assault. It's important that you let them know that the only one responsible for the assault is the person who committed it. A victim neither caused nor deserved what happened.
- "I'm here for you"
Even if your loved one does not want to talk to you about the assault or their feelings about it, it's important that you let them know you're available anytime for support.
- "What can I do?/What will help you?"
Many loved ones are afraid of saying or doing something wrong. It's often helpful to simply ask what would be helpful for them.
Helpful things you can do for a victim:
- Treat your loved one the same
Survivors need to know that their loved ones still love them, care about them and think of them the same as always.
- Empower your loved one
Sexual violence is the ultimate loss of power and control over one's body, safety and well-being. One of the most impactful things you can do is to help restore your loved one's sense of control is by allowing them to make their decisions and to play an active role in their recovery.
- Maintain your focus
Many loved ones feel very strongly about seeking justice or even retaliation for the assault. While anger at an offender is appropriate, focusing on the offender takes your focus away from where it needs to be - your loved one.
- Follow their lead
Allow your loved one the time and space they need to regain a sense of control and begin the recovery process. This will require an open mind and patience.
When to seek outside help:
If someone threatens to harm/kill themself, the offender or others
- Call 911 or your local police department right away if the threat is imminent
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK
- Contact your local crisis hotline
If your loved one is experiencing prolonged symptoms of distress
- If their quality of life is being effected, encourage them to seek professional help
- Many resources are available through UA