HELPING A FRIEND

If someone shares that they’ve been victimized, you are already a trusted person.  To show you are supportive:

LISTEN…

What you say isn’t as important as your willingness to listen.  It’s so hard to say just the right thing, but your friend most likely needs someone who can be strong enough to hear the words that describe their feelings.

BELIEVE…

One of the most hurtful things that can happen is when someone says, “No, that couldn’t have happened.”  Many people can’t cope, so they just say it couldn’t happen.  That’s extremely hard for a victim to hear.

SHOW THAT YOU CARE…

Just be there.  Don’t reject your friend.  Sometimes people feel deserted if their friends back off too far.

UNDERSTANDING THE ABUSED…

Many abused persons lack the self-confidence, and/or economical, and emotional support to leave an abusive situation.  Be careful not to push them into anything that they are not ready or willing to do.

HELP ERASE FEELINGS OF GUILT…

Be sure your friend understands that you know that the offender is to blame.  No matter what your friend could or couldn’t do to get out of the situation, it’s not their fault.

SUPPORT THEIR RIGHT TO BE IN CONTROL…

Lots of tough decisions need to be made…like whom to tell, when to tell, what to do.  Let your friend be in control of those decisions.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT…

Some violent or sexual assaults involve family members and can go on for a period of years.  Often times the person who is being victimized is confused about what to do.  They want the abuse to stop, but they don’t want to hurt the family member.  As a helping person, you may recognize that someone with more power than your friend needs to be involved in order to stop the abuse.  Getting someone else involved may seem painful when you first consider it, but letting an abusive situation continue to get worse can be more painful.

RESOURCES VICTIMS MAY NEED

Beyond the need for immediate safety, each victim of an assault will have different needs, ranging from the need to have access merely to factual information and practical resources to the need for support from someone who can help deal with the victim’s intense feelings about the assault.

Crisis intervention may involve providing information to the victim over the phone, providing support at the scene, through the police investigation and hospital examination, providing short-term counseling, and/or making appropriate referrals.