Support for a friend

Finding support for someone you know

If someone tells you they were sexually assaulted or they are in a controlling and abusive relationship, remember that you might be the first person they have told. Your response helps determine whether they feel safe and supported telling others or seeking additional help. They might not know how to say it or how to sort out their feelings, but they know something is wrong.

Make an appointment

Advocate are able to meet with students who are impacted directly and indirectly. Learning that a friend has been harmed can lead to feelings of anger, confusion, or hurt. We are available to support all members of our campus community. Advocates are available in-person or over Zoom. We always strive to prioritize your needs in terms of privacy, safety, and accessibility.

Link to Calendly booking system for the VPA.

How to offer support

Be a good listener

It takes incredible strength and courage for someone to reveal that they were assaulted or that they are in an abusive relationship. Your friend may need your support now and in the future. Let them choose when they want to talk and how much to share.


Remind your friend that this was not their fault. Let them know that you believe them and be non-judgmental in your approach.

Keep it private

Your friend has chosen to tell you something that may be too difficult or painful to reveal to others. Don’t tell anyone without your friend’s permission. If you are worried about your friend, talk to them about the resources that are available to help.

Provide options and information

There are several things your friend may want to think about: medical care, seeking counseling, collecting evidence, or making a report. It is important to provide information but to allow your friend to make their own choices. Many of these resources and processes can be confusing, and it’s okay if you don’t have all the information. You can always reach out to an advocate to learn more about what might be available for your friend.

Let them make their own decisions

You can provide options and information, but always let your friend make their own decisions. A person who has been harmed has been disempowered by another person, and it is an important part of their recovery to have control over their own decisions. Instead of taking charge, ask how you can help.

Offer to accompany your friend to seek the services that they choose. For example, in addition to just texting your friend the phone number for the confidential advocate, offer to go with them or to make the call together.

Support the decisions your friend makes, even if you don’t agree with them. Take your lead from them on how best to help.

Remind them that you care and they aren’t alone

Your friend may worry that they will be thought of or treated differently by other people. Let your friend know that is not the case and you are there to help them through this.

Take care of yourself

Learn as much as you can about these issues and about available resources. This will help you better understand your friend’s experiences and the process of recovery.

Be aware of your own reactions and feelings of anger, confusion or hurt. Try to differentiate what you are doing to make yourself feel better and what you are doing to help your friend.

Seek support for yourself. Know how much you can give and when you need help. Your support plays a critical role in their recovery. Talking with someone who can help you work through your own feelings may better enable you to support your friend. Confidential advocates can also offer support to you, as someone who has been impacted by your friend’s experience with violence.

Link to Calendly booking system for the VPA.