If you are in immediate danger, call 911 and Campus Safety at 937.382.0100.
When someone has experienced or is questioning an incident of violence (including but not limited to sexual assault, an abusive relationship, harassment, hate crimes, and stalking) they most often disclose their experience to a trusted friend. A concerned, kind, non-judgmental response from someone who cares has been shown to be the most important first step toward healing.
Consider the following guidelines so you know what to say:
Your friend may be trying to make sense of what happened by looking for a justification that pinpoints why this happened. Remember it is NEVER the victim’s fault. No one asks or deserves to be a victim of a crime. It doesn’t matter what they were wearing, what they were doing, how much alcohol they had, if they changed their mind, if they continue to return to an abuser… it is/was not their fault.
Always counter any self-blame you hear with, “What happened was not your fault,” or “you were not to blame in any way for what they did to you.”
Avoid blaming why questions like:
Reasons why victims stay or don’t report can be complicated; for example, did you know victims are often at greatest risk just after they leave an abusive relationship?
Consider reaching out to the Director of Violence Prevention and Education if you struggle with these questions and want to learn more at 937.481.2325.
Use open-ended questions such as:
Gently suggest resources:
Avoid telling your friend what to do.
Allow your friend to make their own decisions about support options, counseling options, reporting, and whether they should seek medical care. Support their decisions.
It can be difficult to see your friend stay in a harmful situation or not want to seek justice. Remember that your friend is the expert of their own life and has done what they can to keep themself safe.
Get support for yourself too.
If you don’t know where to start – or you’re having trouble dealing with the situation yourself – you can connect with an advocate through WeCare or a counselor for consultation and personal support. Supporting a friend can be stressful, and you do not need to go through it alone.
Things you can say…
Still want to learn more or grow more confident in helping your friend? Call or text the SAFE Peer Support Line at 937.356.9778.