Helping a Friend Who Has Been Sexually Assaulted
Check out the handout "Supporting Survivors: How to Help a Friend" on the resource page at www.onestudent.com
Helping a Friend Who Is In an Unhealthy Relationship
Talking to a Friend Who Is Being Abused
You might think that something as simple as talking to a friend about abuse couldn't possibly make a difference. But it really does.
Reach out. Just knowing that someone cares enough to ask about the abuse can break through the wall of isolation that can exist around victims of relationship abuse. If you think a friend or loved one is being abused, talk to her about it. Listen to her. Let her know you care. You don't have to be an expert. You just need to be a friend.
Listen, without judging. Often a victim believes the abuser's negative messages about themselves. They may feel responsible, ashamed, inadequate and afraid of being judged by you.
Tell them the abuse is not their fault. Explain that physical violence in a relationship is never acceptable. There's no excuse for it – not alcohol or drugs, financial pressure, depression, jealousy or any behavior of theirs.
Let them know they are not alone. Millions of people of every age, race and religion face abuse, and many find it extremely difficult to deal with the violence. Emphasize that when they wants help, it is available. Let them know that partner abuse tends to get worse and become more frequent with time and that it rarely goes away on its own.
Explain that relationship abuse is a crime, and that she can seek protection from the police or courts, and help from our local domestic violence program (Violence Intervention Program 432-4855). If English is not the first language call the National Partner abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE, for advice and referrals.
Suggest developing a safety plan in case of emergency. It's a good idea to keep money, important documents, a change of clothes, and an extra set of keys in a safe place, such as at a friend or neighbor's house.
Think about ways you would feel comfortable helping. Get advice. If you want to talk with someone yourself to get advice about a particular situation, contact the Violence Intervention Program.