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How to Support a Friend

If your friend is a victim of sexual harassment or sexual violence, the following information can offer guidance on how to help and support:

  • Listen and accept what you hear. Do not press for details. Allow your friend to reflect on what has happened and to share some of her/his feelings.
  • Keep what is said confidential.
  • Let your friend know that she/he is not to blame. Many victims tend to blame themselves for the offender’s actions, especially if the offender is an acquaintance.
  • Encourage your friend to obtain a medical examination.
  • Allow your friend to make his/her own decision about the next steps.
  • Seek emotional support for yourself.
  • Accept your friend’s decisions regarding the assault even if you disagree with them. It is more important that your friend feel empowered to make choices and take back control than it is for you to impose what you think is the correct decision.
  • Encourage your friend to file a police report. Filing a report is not a commitment to prosecute but will allow the gathering of information and evidence. The information and evidence preserve future options regarding criminal prosecution, university disciplinary actions and/or civil actions against the perpetrator. Information can be helpful in supporting other reports and/or preventing further incidents (even anonymous reports are somewhat useful).
  • Remind your friend of campus resources including OSU Victim Advocate, Student Conduct and University Counseling Services.
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