LIFE AT WSU

  • How to Help a Friend or Family Member

    Sexual violence, relational and dating violence, gender based discrimination or harassment, stalking and retaliation can have an impact on all involved. Friends and family members have an important role in providing support and connection to resources.

    Complainants

    The impact of sexual violence, relational violence, gender based discrimination or harassment, stalking or retaliation may significantly impact how a person feels about themself and those around them. Individual responses may differ but feelings of fear, anxiety, shame and guilt are common for individuals who are impacted by these situations and may be compounded by previous traumatic experiences or stressful events.

    As a friend or family member you may have your own emotional response or questions about what happened. You may even be triggered by what happened due to events in your own life or experience. It’s important to listen with compassion and care, remain supportive and non-judgmental. Allow them to make choices about what is best for them. Offer to help connect your friend to resources and supports that can also aid in their mental well being. Remember that it may be important for you to seek out support as well to help you be there for those you care about during such a difficult time.

    How to Respond

    How to respond if a friend or family member has experienced sexual misconduct or relational violence:

    • Thank them for sharing with you.
    • Ask if they feel safe.
    • Encourage medical care and follow up.
    • Encourage counseling and emotional support.
    • Remind them it is not their fault.
    • Be empathetic and open minded.
    • Resist asking “why” questions or investigating what happened.
    • Allow them to make what choices they feel are best.
    • Ask what they may need from you.
    • Remind them of confidential resources.
    • Offer to help connect them to support, resources and reporting options.
    • Remind them they have a choice to make a Title IX or criminal report.
    • Respect their privacy.
    • Ensure they know they are not alone.
    • Balance being there and giving them their own space.
    • Monitor your own feelings and need for support.

    Respondents

    Being a respondent to a Title IX or sexual misconduct complaint can be a stressful and triggering time, and may compound additional stressors that your friend or family member has been experiencing. You may have your own questions and emotional response. You may find you are angry about the accusation. You may not be in agreement with what may have occurred, or it may cause you to question your friend or family member’s behavior. Encourage your friend or family member to seek out support to aid their mental well being. Remember that it may be important for you to get support to give you suggestions on how to be supportive, as well to help process any emotional response that you may have.

    How to Support

    How to support a friend or family member who is accused of sexual misconduct or relational violence:

    • Thank them for sharing with you.
    • Ask if they feel safe.
    • Resist asking “why” questions or investigating what happened.
    • Allow them to make what choices they feel are best.
    • Ask what they may need from you.
    • Offer to help connect them to support and resources.
    • Remind them to not reach out to the complainant. Any outreach attempts by the respondent or respondent’s friends or family may be considered retaliation.
    • Respect their privacy.
    • Balance being there and giving them their own space.
    • Monitor your own feelings and need for support.

    Learn More

    Link Icon Sexual Assault and Violence Education (SAVE)
    Link Icon Common Reactions Following a Traumatic Experience
    Link Icon We Speak Up Bystander Intervention

  • CONTACT US

    Jennifer Quinn M.Ed., CHES, CTTS
    Director of Title IX
    Drug and Alcohol Education Prevention
    Student Center
    Office SC338
    508-929-8243
    jquinn@worcester.edu
    wsu_titleix@worcester.edu  

    On-Campus Emergencies
    508-929-8911

    Off-Campus Emergencies
    Worcester Police Department
    911