The Catholic University of America
How to Support 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
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  • Listen without judgment
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  • Let them know what happened is not their fault
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  • Don’t press your friend for details – allow them to share information when they are ready
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  • Help connect your friend with University and /or community resources
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  • Offer to go with them to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, to file a report or to the Counseling Center.
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  • Be patient. It may take your friend some time to process the events of the incident and to decide how to proceed.
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  • 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.
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  • Believe them – Many survivors feel afraid to come forward because they feel others won’t believe their story.
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  • Help your friend recognize the red flags – Physical or emotional abuse is not normal and it is not your friend’s fault.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • Honor your limits. Supporting a friend can be difficult, so make sure you are practicing self care.
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