How to Help a Friend

More often than not, the first person a victim-survivor reaches out to tell about their experience is a friend or peer, so it can be important for you to know how to help a friend who has experienced sexual misconduct (including sexual assault), relationship violence or stalking.

If a friend tells you about their experience, it's important to thank them for trusting you with this information and to let them know that you believe them and are there to support them. It's also important to remember that experiencing interpersonal violence means that they have experienced a loss of control, so you should always focus on supporting the individual in whatever choices they decide to make. Individuals can experience and react to trauma very differently, so it's important to be sensitive to whatever emotions they might be feeling. A victim-survivor might feel frightened, upset or angry. They also might feel numb and experience a desire to return to normal as soon as possible.

Actions you can take for victim-survivors

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If Your Friend Experienced Sexual Assault, Relationship Violence or Stalking

  • Help your friend understand all their options and available resources.
  • Offer to support or accompany your friend in getting help or accessing resources. You could offer to call Transitions (1-800-850-7948) or contact Bucknell's interpersonal violence prevention and advocacy coordinator for them. You can also offer to walk with them to the Counseling & Student Development Center.
  • Let them know that you are there to support them. Check in on them to see how they are doing, but be respectful if they don't want to talk more about what has happened.
  • Respect your friend's privacy. Don't tell other people what they have shared with you unless you have received their permission or you suspect they may be in danger.
  • Take care of yourself. Supporting someone who has experienced sexual violence can be a difficult and frightening task on its own. Friends and family of survivors may experience burnout or secondary trauma as a result of trying to help the victim-survivor.
  • It's important for you to know that you can also access any of the campus resources if you need support or advice.

If Your Friend is in an Unhealthy or Abusive Relationship

  • Never try to force your friend to leave if they are not ready.
  • Focus on offering them healthy friendship and supportĀ and let them know you are there to help them whenever they need it.
  • Help them to make a safety plan of ways to keep themselves safe in the relationship if needed.

If Your Friend is Experiencing Stalking

  • Encourage them to document any interactions, messages or communications from the individual, including taking screenshots if possible.
  • Help them think of ways to keep themselves, their personal information and their property safe.

Contact Details

Lindsey Higgins

Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coordinator/Title IX Investigator


306 H Elaine Langone Center