How To Support a Friend
Campus sexual violence impacts 1 in 5 women, and male college aged students are 78% more likely to be impacted than nonstudents. (Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network, RAINN). Only 20% of female college students report to law enforcement, and 90% know their assailant (RAINN.) Often times, a victim/survivor will first disclose his or her experience to a trusted friend before anyone else. How can you help?
Listen, remain calm, and don’t say “I would have/I wouldn’t have” or “If I were in that situation, I would feel/do…” Remember everyone’s experience is their own, and there is never a right or wrong way to react to sexual violence. As Maria Dimachike, a third-year Economics major relates, “In my experience, the most important thing to say first is that you believe them and are there for them. While my first instinct was to direct my friend to resources, I realized that they really just wanted to talk, know someone believed them, and to be validated in the moment.”
While it is important to acknowledge and believe a friend’s experience, it is also important to know that help is available for both you and the impacted student. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed by the information, and it’s okay to seek support for yourself, too. It is also significant to nourish your body and mid by practicing self-care, such as yoga, meditation, hiking, or deep breathing exercises. Remember, no matter what position you are in, as either the loved one or impacted student----you are never alone.
Campus Assault Resources and Education (CARE)
5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110