How to Help A Friend

Ensure their immediate safety. Make sure they are no longer in danger. If you or they are in danger, call 911.

Believe them. They need to be supported and encouraged by your listening. Accuracy of details can be checked out later. Don’t ask “why” questions or make “if only” statements. It is often a natural response to wonder why something happens to someone you love, but your friend might interpret your comments as blame. Things like, “Why did you go there alone?” or “If only you hadn’t been drinking” can be hurtful.

Respond calmly and with reassurance. Your friend needs you to stay calm and provide support. They need to feel like they can display their emotions without worrying about how you will handle it.

Tell them:

  • “I am glad you told me. It is not your fault.
    Your friend might blame herself or himself, and other people might make comments to blame them. They need to know that the assault was NOT their fault.
  • “I am sorry this happened to you.”
  • “I will do my best to support you.”
  • “It is normal and okay to have the feelings you are having.”


Get help. They may need to see a doctor, counselor, police, or lawyer. Let your friend decide what they want to do. Sexual violence takes away the victim’s control over their life. Help them understand their options, and allow your friend to take control again by making their own decisions.

Don’t make decisions for them. If you need help figuring out options, call the Center at 1-866-WE LISTEN, or encourage them to call.

Respect their privacy about the details of the incident and who is told. Let them lead the way in talking about what happened.

Try to follow normal routines. This provides reassurance while they work to re-establish a sense of control over their life.

Recognize your own feelings. It is normal and okay to have reactions to a friend being assaulted. Get help, such as support from the Center or a counselor. It’s hard to help someone else when you are troubled.

  • 24-Hour Help Line:

    • 866-WE-LISTEN (866-935-4783)
    • 919-967-7273 (Local)
    • 919-338-0746 (TTY)
    • 919-504-5211 (Text)