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Get Help for My Friend Who Has Been Accused of Sexual Assault

If a friend or someone you know is accused of sexual abuse, you likely have questions and may be struggling to understand what has happened. You may be experiencing a range of emotions (helplessness, anger, confusion) and are unsure how to respond to your friend or to the situation. If your friend has told you that he/she has been accused of sexual abuse, he/she is likely turning to you for help and support.

What can I do to help my friend through this experience?

Direct Your Friend to Resources

There are individuals on campus who are available to talk with a person accused of sexual assault. These professionals can help that person understand what may happen next. Helping your friend access these resources is a step you can take to provide support in what may be a confusing and emotional time for both of you. Encourage your friend to speak with their Undergraduate Dean and a Counselor at Dick's House. 

Seek Counseling

Recommend that your friend seek counseling to deal with the emotions that he/she may be experiencing. It may also be helpful for you to seek counseling to help you process any emotions and trauma you may be experiencing as a result of this situation. To schedule an appointment with Counseling and Human Development (CHD) call (606) 646-9422 [M-F 8a-4p]. CHD is located at Dick Hall's House, 7 Rope Ferry Road. Counseling records are confidential. No information is given out to anyone (family, friends, Deans, prospective employers) without the student's written permission, and are kept separate from a student’s medical records.

Get Educated on the Issue of Sexual Assault

The information in this website can be of help in answering some of the questions you may have. If you are seeking additional information on sexual assault, please contact a Sexual Assault Awareness Program Coordinator at (603) 646-9430 [M-F 8:30a-6p] or Blitz SAAP.

Be Available to Listen

He/she may not feel comfortable talking about the matter, but let your friend know you will listen.

Avoid Judging

Remember, being a friend does NOT mean:

Approving of all your friend's actions and/or choices. You can help your friend without making a judgment as to whether or not a sexual assault occurred. Determining if a crime or judicial violation took place is the responsibility of campus administrators and/or the legal system, not yours. 

Taking action

Violence or retaliation is not the answer to helping your friend. Remember, harassing and threatening behaviors towards your friend, the reporting student or the reporting student's friends are not helpful. These behaviors could undermine any court or judicial proceeding taking place and could get you or your friend into an even worse situation. If your friend expresses an interest in contacting the reporting student "to explain his/her side, to talk about what happened, or to try to work things out," strongly discourage this behavior. Even if your friend has good intentions, the reporting student already feels violated and further contact from your friend or 3rd parties could be perceived as intimidating, harassing and threatening to the reporting student.

Helpful phrases to encourage your friend to talk:

  • What do you want to do?
  • Tell me more about __________?
  • How can I help you?
  • What do(es) he/she/they think about that?
  • What does that mean to you?
  • What would you like to see happen?
  • What I'm hearing you say is _______.
  • What is the best thing that could happen?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen

Last Updated: 4/6/12