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How to Help a Friend

Know that most university faculty and staff must report incidents of relationship violence and sexual assault to the Office of Equal Opportunity, Ethics, and Access for investigation. The Sexual Assault Prevention and Survivor Services Program and Student Counseling Services counselors are not required to report. The university is required to follow up on all incidents of relationship violence and sexual assault and may investigate to support its' efforts to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all students. The survivor determines his/her level of participation in this process.

It is very difficult to talk about being in an abusive relationship. Many individuals do not view their relationship as abusive and maintain the hope that their partner will change. Many are ashamed and embarrassed and the abusive partner often seeks to isolate them from their friends and family, thereby cutting off sources of support. Seeing a friend or loved one in an unhealthy relationship will likely create many emotions in you.

Attempting to take charge of the situation or make decisions for your friend, will not help. You may struggle with understanding how your friend/family member could allow themselves to be hurt and question how they could remain in such an abusive/unhealthy relationship. Support, patience and understanding are needed.

Guidelines for Helping

  • Listen - If the survivor wants to talk allow them to talk.
  • Express your concern - Focus on specifics that you have observed: changes in behavior, withdrawal from friends/family, increasing anxiety or depression, bruising, etc. Express your concern for their safety and well-being.
  • Understand that victims of abuse often suffer from a loss of self-esteem and feel helpless and worthless; they feel powerless to act and are fearful of leaving the relationship. There are typically multiple attempts to leave an unhealthy relationship before one is able to terminate this relationship.
  • Know that safety is a very real concern. The most dangerous time for the abused partner is when they have left the relationship. Abusive relationships are about control and when the abusive partner feels they have lost control, their level of violence may escalate.
  • Know that assistance with safety planning is critical. Encourage use of available resources to make plans for safely leaving an abusive relationship.
  • Make them aware of resources and offer assistance in accessing needed services. Actively encourage the abused partner to seek services.
  • Ask them how you can help.
  • Be aware of your own feelings and concerns. Seek out the support of others in dealing with your own feelings about your friend's experience.

2017-01-27T09:36:18.755-06:00 2017
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