University of Southern Indiana

How to Help a Friend

If a friend is assaulted, there are things you can do to help.

  • Make sure they are safe. If not, get them to a safe place.
  • Listen, believe, and do not judge them.
  • Reinforce that they are not to blame.
  • Help them organize their thoughts, but let them make decisions about how to proceed.
  • Provide options if your friend wants to report the assault. Reporting can be done on campus by contacting Public Safety. Reporting may be done anonymously, and does not require them to file charges. To report off campus, call 911.
  • Call Albion Fellows Bacon Center's Rape Crisis line. Trained counselors will be able to help you in understanding what steps to take to help your friend.
  • Explain that seeking medical attention is very important if the assault was recent. There may be injuries that they are unaware of.
  • Encourage them not to disturb potential evidence. Even if they do not plan to press charges, they should not change clothes, shower, or wash their hands after the assault, which can disturb DNA evidence. Get medical attention first.
  • Be accessible. Your friend may need to talk at odd hours or for long periods of time.
  • Deal with your feelings. Sexual assault impacts loved ones, and you need to heal as well.
  • Understand that every victim is different. Your friend may exhibit shock, denial, rationalization, depression, guilt, fear, anxiety, and anger. All are normal emotions.
  • Do not engage with the alleged perpetrator. Contacting him/her may be viewed as threatening behavior.
  • Encourage your friend to get mental health care. On campus, you can contact the Counseling Center, and there are also off-campus resources available.

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