Support a Friend
For students: How do I support a friend?
NOTE: If someone you know has experienced sexual misconduct, the first thing to know is many times this person feels that control has been taken away from them. It is important for supporting people to help them regain as much control as possible. Though this section lays out information and good practices for next steps, it is ultimately up to the person disclosing what they want to do and how they want to handle their situation.
Ensure that they are safe, in a safe place, and feel safe.
- The physical safety of a survivor is of the utmost importance. If they are in immediate danger call Campus Safety (740-587-6777) or 911. More information can be found in the “Something Happened to Me” page of the site, under the “Immediate Help” section of the website.
Encourage the person to seek medical attention and offer to help to connect them with services.
- Medical attention will help the immediate physical health of an individual and may prevent further damage to their health. This is especially important in the 24 hours after an assault occurs. Sexual assault is a violent crime and physical trauma may have occurred during the assault. Additionally, the reporter may be at risk of acquiring a STD. Medical personnel can also perform a forensic exam if the reporter choose to participate. More information can be found in the “Something Happened to Me” page of the site, under the “Immediate Help” section.
Offer to connect person with other resources and people to speak to.
- Sexual misconduct can be traumatic for anyone. Encourage your friend to speak with someone. Speaking to a licensed counselor/therapist, someone who works in a community organization concerned with sexual violence, and/or a spiritual advisor can be valuable coping options. More information can be found in the “Something Happened to Me” page of the site, under the “Who can I talk to?” section.
Speak to the person about reporting options.
- The person disclosing to you may wish to report this incident. There are several options for reporting including reporting to Denison, reporting to law enforcement, reporting to a third party, and/or anonymous reporting. More information can be found in the “Something Happened to Me” page of the site, under the “How do I report?” section.
- If your friend is considering reporting to Denison, it will be important for you and your friend to familiarize yourself with the process. For information about the University’s process to investigate and adjudicate cases and the rights of those involved, please see the “Denison’s Response and Process for Reports” section of the website.
Continue to support your friend.
- The road to recovery for a survivor of sexual violence can be long and difficult and, in some ways, may not ever end. Continue to check in and offer your help. Also, continue to do the things you used to do with your friend, if they want to. Getting back as close to normal as possible can help in the recovery process.
- Additionally, if someone discloses to you about a sexual assault it is because they trust you immensely. Please maintain that trust by keeping information shared private from social circles.
- It may be difficult to understand what your friend may be going through and the complex emotions associated with trauma and assault. Vera House Incorporated has a collection of stories written by survivors that provide insight into what your friend may or may not be feeling and/or thinking. Those stories can be accessed at Vera House Inc.
Take care of yourself.
- Supporting a person through a difficult and traumatic experience can be difficult and traumatic for the support person too. If you need to talk to someone, Whisler offers counseling services free of charge. The Counseling Center can be reached at (740) 587-6647.