Help a Friend

The key to helping a friend who has been sexually assaulted is really providing three things. 

  1. Listening and believing in them. 
  2. Allowing them to make their own decisions about what they need and want.
  3. Being there for them in ways that they ask. We’ve spelled them out a little more below and also provided the all-important fourth – Make sure you take care of your own needs.
  • Listen. Be there.
    Believe in them. Each survivor has their own unique reaction to assault, do your best to understand how your friend is feeling by keeping the focus on their reactions to the incident. It’s hard not to want all the details or to try to recreate what happened to find a way to avoid or undo it. Do your best to keep your focus on the here and now.
  • Help your friend empower themselves.
    It’s common to want to step in and ‘fix’ things when a friend has been hurt. Try to remember that helping your friend empower themselves is one of the most supportive things you can do for them. Do this by allowing them to make choices based on what they feel will work for them and not by telling them what they ‘need’ to do or ‘should’ do. If you want to provide your friend with options, contact the Sexual Assault Resource Center at 518-442-5800 or consider showing your friend the online brochure.
  • Provide on-site support (if wanted).
    If your friend is considering seeking medical attention or reporting the incident, having someone with them can make a huge difference. If you’re not able to be with them, a medical advocate from the Crime Victims and Sexual Violence Center in Albany can accompany them.
  • Remember to take care of yourself.
    Having someone else to speak with about your experiences can help to keep the focus on your friend when you’re talking with them. Please feel free to contact the University Counseling Center to speak with one of our psychologists to see how we can help either you or your friend. You can also call the Middle Earth Peer Assistance Hotline at 518-442-5777 to talk to someone.

All of the above suggestions are made with the assumption that you are not worried about your friend’s immediate safety. If you have ANY concerns about your friend’s safety, please call 911.

For more information on how to help: RAINN’s How to Help a Loved One.