Helping a Survivor
- If your friend tells you they are being stalked, abused or was physically or sexually assaulted: Believe them. Your friend needs to be believed and supported. Let them know it’s not their fault. It is never the fault of the victim. These offenses have nothing to do with the victim's behavior, actions or the reality of the situation.
- Support and understanding are essential. These offenses can cause depression, anxiety, headaches, stomach problems, sleeping problems etc… Let your friend talk as much as or as little as they need to. It is important that you listen and believe them. Respect their boundaries by giving your friend or loved one personal comfort space.
- Ask them how they’d like you to help
- Allow them to make personal decisions about how to proceed and support their choices even if you disagree.
- Do not respond to the offender. Any response from you can be misinterpreted and may even encourage that offender. Contact with the offender can put you or your friend in further danger.
- Advise your friend to keep evidence and document everything. You can also document any related incidence that you witness. Tell your friend to keep a log of the time, date, place and other details they may find of importance. Tell them to keep all e-mails, phone messages, letters, notes or social media messages. Tell them to photograph any damages to their personal possessions and any injuries they may have incurred.
- Respect Privacy. Offenders can be very clever about getting information so do not give any information out about your friend, no matter what the offender or their associates might say.
- Help them feel safe. Offer to spend time with your friend so they do not have to be alone.
- Refer your friend to the Women’s Center, Counseling Care, Safe Center, University or local Law enforcement. They can assist you in helping your friend devise a personal safety plan, provide support and advocacy, provide them with information about local laws and University policies, investigate and prosecute the offense. They can assess the situation and refer your friend to counseling, legal aid, provide an escort on campus and they can be a safe place on campus where their needs will be heard and responded to. Resources
- Get Support for Yourself. Sometimes the friends of victims can also feel the impact of the crime and experience emotional and physical reactions. This is called secondary victimization. Hearing about these offenses can be upsetting. You may feel angry, sad, frustrated and helpless. If you have experienced crime or other traumatic events in the past, your friend’s experience might bring up memories and feelings of that time. You may want to talk about your feelings but also respect your friend’s privacy. You can contact the Women’s Center, Counseling Care or Safe Center to speak to an advocate confidentially. Resources
- Don’t assume you can give a hug or sit too closely to them
- Don’t make statements or ask questions that imply it’s their fault
- Don’t ask for details
- Don’t assume you know what would be best for them
- Don’t tell them what to do
- Don’t be judgmental if they respond differently than you’d prefer
Be an Active Bystander
It is important that all individuals learn how to recognize the signs that someone is in danger and how to step in safely to prevent it. This is called being an active bystander.
Some simple steps to becoming an active bystander are;
- Be aware of your surroundings and what is going on
- Be able to recognize when a problem is present and someone needs your assistance
- See yourself as being part of the solution
- Educate yourself on what to do in situation and the resources available to assist you
- Take action by intervening in a safe manner
How to intervene safely
- Report the situation to an authority figure
- Law Enforcement
- Dean for Students
- Counseling Health Care
- If you are going to intervene tell another person. Being with others is a good idea when a situation could be dangerous or could escalate
- Ask the victim if he/she is okay. Listen and believe them and then provide options for them.
- Ask the person if he/she wants to leave and then make sure they get to a safe place of their choice