How to Help a Friend
If you have a friend who is a victim of violence, s/he receives support from friends and family. Learn who the professionals are on campus and in the community who help students with problems of violence at Purchase College, and be sure to take care of yourself, as well. Resources.
Here are some ways to help a friend who . . .
. . . is a victim of a sexual assault:
- Ask your friend what s/he needs from you instead of telling him/her how to handle the situation.
- Let your friend know that it is "not your fault". It is never a victim's fault, even if the assaulted person did not yell for help, fight back, or was drinking. Never blame your friend.
- Tell your friend that “Your saffety is what really matters.” It will be reassuring to your friend to hear that what is most important is that s/he is alive and got through the experience as best that s/he could. Questions like “why did you go there alone” are blaming not reassuring.
- Tell your friend “I believe you.” Victims often have self-doubts. It will be a big relief to your friend if you believe the violence really happened.
- Tell your friend you will be supportive by listening. Be supportive by listening, not judging and not prying.
- Tell your friend that it’s OK to talk about his/her feelings for as long as s/he needs to.
- Encourage your friend to seek professional confidential help, either on or off campus. Offer to walk with your friend to the Counseling Center, if s/he wants.
. . . is in an abusive relationship:
- Let your friend know that he/she did not deserve to be treated badly.
- Help your friend to understand that there was not anything bad about them that caused the violence. The Abusive behavior is the choice and responsibility of the abuser.
- Don't judge your friend for staying in the relationship.
- Don't stop having personal contact with your friend and be sure to include him/her when making social plans.
- Help your friend learn ways to protect him/herself.
. . . is being stalked:
- Become familiar with the legal definition of stalking at /studaff/speakout/glossary.asp
- Listen and be supportive.
- Remember that every situation is different, and respect the choices of the victim.
- Encourage your friend to seek assistance. Law enforcement officers and victim services professionals can help victims of stalking develop strategies called "safety plans". Don't try to help your friend alone, as stalking is an unpredictable and dangerous crime.
- Refer your friend to on-campus resources, including University Police, the Victim Advocate in the Counseling Center, the Campus Judicial Office and/or to off-campus resources, including Victims Assistance Services and My Sisters' Place.