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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
  • Anxiety
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Being excessively alert and easily startled
  • General mistrust

Source and Additional Information:

If your friend has been sexually assaulted, here are some ways you can help and support them:

  • Listen
  • 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 quiet 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:

Here are some helpful numbers:

  • Wellness Services - Front Desk 660.562.1348
  • Wellness Services - Counseling Services 660.562.1348
  • University Police 660.562.1254
  • Student Affairs Office 660.562.1242