How to Help a Friend

Victims/Survivors of sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, or stalking may experience a wide range of emotions and come to you for help and support. As a friend, partner, roommate and/or loved one, remember that you do not have to be an expert. In addition to the tips provided below, The Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence provides support and resources to friends and family members of victims/survivors to help them assist their friend and/or loved one in the aftermath of violence. Visit or call to speak with an advocate in the Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence.

  • Listen.
    Sometimes the best thing you can do is the most simple. Allowing someone to share their experience at their own pace and without being interrupted can be very helpful. Let the victim/survivor determine when and how much they would like to share with you. Do not probe for details.
  • Believe.
    It is common for victims/survivors to feel confused and/or experience memory loss. It is not your role to question him/her or investigate.
  • Allow her/him to react
    No two people will feel exactly the same. Give your friend/partner/loved one permission to feel however they want to during this difficult time.
  • Don’t judge.
    Victims/survivors often feel that they are responsible for the abuse they have experienced. Reinforce that the abuse is not their fault.
  • Let her/him be in control
    Experiences of this nature take away a person’s sense of power and control. By letting victims/survivors decide what they want to do, you are giving them back power and control.
  • Offer resources
    Offer but do not insist that the victim/survivor seek out support services. Offer to assist her/him in connecting with these resources (link to the resources tab).
  • Know YOUR reporting requirements
    If you are a student employee, be clear and upfront about your role as a mandated reporter and your obligation to report any information shared with you to the Title IX Coordinator.
  • Seek assistance for yourself
    Helping others can be challenging. Paying attention to your own feelings and taking care of yourself is essential to being an effective source of support for others. Contact the Advocacy Center for Sexual Violence at 518-442-CARE to talk about how you can be a supportive friend and/or loved one.