Helping a friend
If a friend has been sexually assaulted, there is no 'one way' they may feel.
- Your friend may also experience any or all of these emotions:
- Mood swings
- An inability to concentrate or relax
- Disturbances in eating and sleeping
- The assailant may try to manipulate your friend into feeling sorry for the assailant in the hope that your friend will decide not to tell anyone about the incident.
- The assailant may have had sex with the victim when the victim was too drunk or too high to say no.
- The assailant might have suggested that something bad would happen to your friend if the victim did not give in.
What can you do?
- Believe your friend. People rarely lie about being sexually assaulted. Be sure that your friend knows they have your support.
- Allow your friend to decide when to seek professional help. You are still helping your friend even if your friend refuses some of your suggestions. Providing support is better than pressuring your friend.
- Let your friend control the situation as much as possible. Let your friend determine the pace of healing. Help your friend understand the options available and encourage your friend to keep their options open. Most important, allow your friend to make their own decisions.
- Show you are there to listen. A friend may confide in you 10 minutes or 10 years after the assault. At that time, it does not matter what you say, but how you listen. Remember that someone has violated your friend's sense of trust. Respect your friend's need to have someone to confide in.
- Don't search for things your friend could have done differently. No one asks to be sexually assaulted. Avoid asking blaming questions and using judgmental or pointed phrases, such as "Why didn't you scream?" or "If I ever get my hands on that creep . . ." or "I would have . . ."
- Encourage your friend to get medical attention as soon as possible. Your friend can obtain medical attention from:
- University Health Service
- A private physician
- A hospital emergency room
- Emergency room staff will contact the police when they treat victims of sexual assault. Police officers ask victims if they would like to file a report. Your friend does not have to talk to the police or file a report if your friend does not want to.
There is help for your friend and for you.
Your friend may need counseling. Offer to help your friend through the process of finding someone to talk to. You need to take care of yourself as well. You may also find it helpful to talk with someone about the situation.
- University Counseling Center, 585-275-3113, on-call 24 hours
- RESTORE Hotline, 585-546-2777, on-call 24 hours