AS A STUDENT, GIVE HELP TO A FRIEND
If your friend is the victim of: sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking or sexual harassment, you probably want nothing more than to help but keep in mind that there is no instruction manual for helping a victim.
Everyone is different. There is no right or wrong reaction to trauma. Your friend might completely shut down or act like nothing happened.
No matter how they are handling this difficult time, all of their feelings are valid. So we suggest some safe and healthy ways to support your friend and yourself.
Questions about reporting should be directed to:
- Actively listen without judgment.
- Avoid asking questions or digging for details. As a friend, your job is to listen not investigate or question their account.
- It might be difficult to just listen, but it is best to give your friend control of what information they share.
- Assure your friend that it is not their fault –no matter what.
- Self-blame and self-doubt are common reactions of victims of sexual violence.
- As their friend, assure and reassure them that what happened was not their fault.
Maintaining your friend's privacy can be one of the most helpful things you can do for them.
- Do not share what happened with mutual friends and especially do not post on social media.
- If your friend gives you permission to share, use your best judgment on who to share with.
- If you are very worried about your friend's well-being and they will not seek help, while maintaining their privacy, you can reach out yourself to one of the same support services for victims. Professionals will be able to talk with you and offer suggestions.
Let your friend take the lead
It's completely natural to want to fix things. That is probably what makes you a good friend. But know that dealing with and recovering from sexual assault or relationship violence is not fast and not in your control.
- Offer information about confidential support services available at The University of Akron.
- If your friend is anxious or scared to seek help from outside sources – even those they know could help – offer to go with them. Sometimes that's all it takes to give them the confidence to take action.
If your friend is a victim of stalking
Things to know or you can do for your friend who is being stalked:
- Take this seriously.
Menacing By Stalking is a crime in Ohio and a violation of University Policies. Stalking victims often fail to report because they don't want to be seen as overly dramatic. When your friend describes behavior that sounds like stalking, identify it as a problem and not something to be laughed at or ignored.
- Validate their feelings.
Whether your friend is feeling a little anxious or very scared, validate their feelings.
- Maintain their privacy.
As a student do not share your friend's personal identification information with anyone without their permission. Sharing your friend's identity may help a stalker locate your friend. Even if the person asking for your friend's information seems trustworthy and nice, do not share it.
- This includes all platforms: social media, online, verbally or written.
- Record anything related to your friend and their stalker.
Make a record of anything you see or hear. As a witness, you can offer important details and support if/when your friend decides to file a police report, obtain a criminal or a civil protection order or initiate a formal complaint (investigation) through The University of Akron.