Section Menu

Support Others

SAFE

If you are in immediate danger, call 911 and Campus Safety at 937.382.0100.


Infographic

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:

  • “I believe you” are three powerful words to someone who has just experienced violence. Be sure your friend knows you believe them.
  • Reassure your friend that whatever happened is not their fault.

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:

  • “Why did you let them into your room?”
  • “Why did you drink so much?”
  • “Why do you stay in that relationship?”

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:

  • “What do you need?”
  • “I want to help; what can I do?”

Gently suggest resources:

  • “Would making an appointment at WeCare be helpful?”
  • “Have you considered who else you might be comfortable talking to about the way you’ve been feeling?”
  • “Have you considered reporting what happened?”

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.

  • If you know the perpetrator, avoid comments like, “they would never do that,” “they’re not that kind of person,” or “I find that hard to believe.”
  • Acknowledge that something distressing happened and encourage your friend to take the time they need for healing and recovery.
  • Be sure your friend knows about the available resources.

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…

  • “I believe you”
  • “It was not your fault”
  • “I am here to support you, whatever you decide”
  • “Thank you for telling me”
  • “How can I help? What do you need?”
  • “I love you, I’m here for you”
  • “You have options”
  • “I am concerned for your safety”

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.