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How to Help a Friend

How to Help a Friend

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How to Help a Friend

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  1. USC&A - Fraternity and Sorority Life Virginia Commonwealth University How to Help a Friend

  2. Purpose • The purpose of this module is to provide participants with a basic level of understanding of how to support a friend who has been sexually assaulted. As a result of this module participants should be better prepared to aid others who disclose this information to them.

  3. How to Help a Friend • As a member of a fraternity or sorority you may be in a situation where a friend or member discloses to you that they were raped or sexually assaulted. • The following presentation is meant to give you basic tools to support that person.

  4. Be Aware • When someone discloses such information to you, be aware that: • You are not an expert, so do not try to be one. • The person is a survivor and not a victim. • Responding with more violence is not the answer. • All people regardless of age race, gender, and/or sexual orientation can be potential victims of sexual assault and rape.

  5. Believe • The most important thing to do when a person tells you that they been sexually assaulted is to believe them without question or hesitation. • Believing is the most important thing that you can do for your friend.

  6. Realize • Realize you may be the first person to whom a survivor discloses his or her story. • Your reaction whether positive or negative will affect the way in which their healing occurs. • Sharing this type of information is extremely difficult for the survivor. • Often times sharing this information with others causes the survivor to relive their assault. • If someone is choosing to share this information with you that they trust you and that you cannot break that trust.

  7. Listen non-judgmentally • Be an active listener. • Do not question the person’s actions, details of the assault, why your friend feels the way he or she does.

  8. Listen non-judgmentally • If you are having trouble understanding what your friend may be saying, clarify. • Paraphrase or relate feelings back to the person to ensure that you are not assuming that your friend’s feelings reflect your own beliefs or judgments.

  9. Assure them they are not to blame • Let your friend know that it is not his or her fault and that they are not to blame for the assault in anyway. • Survivors will often blame themselves for what has happened. • Remind your friend that no matter what happened, it is not their fault.

  10. Assure them they are not alone • Survivors of sexual assault often feel isolated, scared, and powerless. • You can be most helpful just by being there. • Your presence can reassure the survivor and allow them to have a safe space to work out their feelings.

  11. Empower your friend • Remember that it is always up to the survivor to make choices. • Survivors may ask for guidance or advice. • Providing survivors with resources and options to utilize will help them regain the control they have lost. • Do not try to fix their problem. • Let survivors make the choices and do not decide for them.

  12. Helpful Phrases • What do you want to do? • How do you feel about that? • Tell me more about _____? • What have you tried so far? • What dopes he/she/they think about that? • What does that mean to you? • What do you think about that?

  13. Helpful Phrases • What is it that bothers you about that? • In what way? • Do you want to? • What would you like? • What would you like to see happen? • What I’m hearing you say is _____. • What is the best thing that could happen? • What is the worst thing that could happen?

  14. Things to Avoid • Do not respond to violence with more violence. Beating up the perpetrator will not solve the problem for the survivor. • Evaluating the survivor by using phrase like: • you shouldn’t… • you ought to… • your wrong… • Interpreting, analyzing, diagnosing why the survivor is where they are emotionally by using phrases like • you’re doing that because… • you only made that choice because… • you feel this way because….

  15. Things to Avoid • Ridiculing, shaming: • What were you thinking? • Why did you do such a thing? • Interrupting or Dominating Conversation: • Yeah, that happened to me once… • I never would have done that!

  16. Scenario – Your Friend You and your friend went for walk on Sunday afternoon on campus to catch up and talk about how your weekends went. During the conversation your friend let’s you know that their weekend went extremely bad and that they had been sexually assaulted. You stopped and sat down on a bench as your friend began to cry…

  17. How do you help your friend • What questions should you ask? • What questions should you not ask? • What can you do? • Where can you refer your friend for help?

  18. VCU Counseling Services (804) 828-6200 The Family Violence & Sexual AssaultVirginia Hotline1-800-838-8238 Safe Harbor, Henrico County Providing crisis intervention, shelter,community counseling, children'scounseling & court advocacy 804-287-7877 VCU and Community Resources • VCU Wellness Resource Center (804) 828-9355 • VCU Police Emergency: (804) 828-1234 Escort Services: (804) 828-WALK • Richmond YWCA Hotline • Providing free crisis intervention,emergency shelter, counseling & support 804-643-0888

  19. Conclusion Believe. Realize. and Listen.

  20. Sources • Information on Helpful and Non-Helpful Responses adapted from the VAASA Volunteer Manual, 2nd Edition, 1998 and Avalon: A Center for Women and Children"Active Listening" handbook.

  21. Contact Us For more information or support please contact: USC&A Fraternity & Sorority Life Office 907 Floyd Ave., Room 014 Richmond, VA 23284 Phone: (804) 828-4685 Email: Web: