Help a Friend
How to help:
If your friend has experienced a sexual assault, he or she may have these “red flag” indicators:
- Depressed or irritable mood
- Loss of interest in most activities
- Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot, or difficulty sleeping)
- Changes in energy level, exhaustion
- Nightmares, flashbacks
- Fear for one's own safety
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Excessive guilt, self-blame, or feelings of worthlessness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of suicide
- Being excessively alert and easily startled
- General mistrust
Source and Additional Information: http://www.unco.edu/asap/help/helping_a_friend.html
If your friend has been sexually assaulted, here are some ways you can help and support them:
- Believe her or him
- Be supportive
- Reassure your loved one it was not their fault
- Let the victim know you are there for them when they are ready to talk
- Help the victim receive medical attention--some emergency departments have specialized programs for collecting sexual assault forensic evidence--if he/she does not want to report, he/she may prefer to go to a clinic or their primary care physician--call MOCSA for names of recommended physicians
- Stay calm--you'll be more helpful if you stay in control of your own emotions
- Suggest that the victim talks with someone trained to help victims of sexual assault
- Be gentle and sensitive
- Don’t make decisions for the victim--even if the victim is under 18, allow them to be part of the decision making process
- Don't blame the victim for the assault--the blame always lies with the offender
- Don't pressure the victim to talk--give them the chance to talk about their emotions and reactions when they choose
- Don't tell the victim what he or she must or must not do--it is up to the victim whom to tell and whom not to tell
When Helping a Survivor of Sexual Assault/Abuse, Remember to Take Care of Yourself Too:
Here are some feelings you may be experience, and ways you can help yourself:
- Talk with people you can trust. You too need support from others.
- If you are male and the survivor is female, do not take personally any hatred she feels towards men. Her anger with the perpetrator and may generalize into a temporary anger toward all men.
- Talk to a counselor or call a rape crisis hotline. It is hard to witness someone in emotional pain. Take care of yourself as you help the survivor.
- Educate yourself about rape and rape prevention.
- Moderate your stress levels through activities with other friends and/or through "alone time."
- Do not expect to be able to make the survivor feel better all of the time.
- Do not blame the survivor. Even when you feel poor judgments were made by the survivor, no one deserves to be sexually assaulted or abused.
- Do not blame yourself. The only person who is at fault is the person who committed the crime.
Source and Additional Information: http://www.counselingcenter.illinois.edu/?page_id=183
Here are some helpful numbers:
- Wellness Services - Front Desk 660.562.1348
- Wellness Services - Counseling Services 660.562.1220
- University Police 660.562.1254
- Student Affairs Office 660.562.1242