One of the best ways you can support your family member of friend is by becoming aware of resources on campus and within our community and encouraging him or her to utilize the ones that are best for him or her at the time.
Supporting a Survivor: A Guide for Family and Friends
When sexual misconduct affects someone you care about, you may feel upset and confused. Your support at a time like this can be extremely helpful to a victim of sexual misconduct. Here are some guidelines to help you through this time:
Believe and Don’t Blame
Believe their experience. Don’t question or blame them. No matter the circumstances, they did not ask to be a victim of sexual misconduct. It is very common for survivors to blame themselves. Remember, the blame for sexual misconduct rests only with the perpetrator.
Survivors often feel fear even after the events are over. The perpetrator may have threatened to harm them. Help survivors deal with their fear by finding ways to increase their feelings of security and safety.
The survivor may have strong feelings and they have the right to their emotions, which may include numbness, sadness, anger, denial, fear, depression, agitation or withdrawal. Be supportive by accepting all of their feelings and providing an atmosphere of care and safety.
Let the survivor know you want to listen, and try to empathize with what they are going through.
• Find time to focus on the survivor.
• Let them talk and do not interrupt.
• Ask what they need from you.
• Avoid asking blaming questions such as, "Why did you go there?," "Why didn't you scream?," "Why did you drink so much?" or "Why did you wear that?"
• Reassure them that they are not to blame.
The more you know about sexual misconduct, the more you may be able to support a friend or family member. Hotlines listed in the right-hand column of this page provide support not only for survivors, but for friends and family members, too. A link to Concordia-Chicago’s Sexual Misconduct policy is found in the right-hand column. You may also contact the Title IX Coordinator about the process.
Take the Events Seriously
Pay attention, help validate the seriousness of their feelings, and recognize their need to work through these feelings. Being a victim of sexual misconduct can be a shattering experience. Recovery is a process of acceptance and healing that takes time—sometimes months or even longer—and requires support.
Many victims of sexual misconduct feel frightened and vulnerable about being alone. This will pass with time. Stay with the survivor as long as they want you to.
Let the Victim Make His/Her Own Decisions
Help them explore all the options, but respect their privacy and confidentiality. Do not pressure them into making decisions or doing things they are not ready to do. However, if you are a CUC Mandatory Reporter made aware of sexual misconduct, you must immediately report the incident to the Title IX Office. If not, you may want to help them determine their steps moving forward.
When You Need Support
In order to care about your family member or friend, you may need to cope with some difficult emotions of your own. If you are experiencing rage, blame or changes in how you feel about your friend/relative, you can be most helpful by finding ways to cope with your own emotions. See the right-hand column for the many resources, including counseling and advocacy services, which can help you in the process and feel empowered as an ally.