Supporting Others

Many sexual assault survivors feel helpless and alone; your support can make a big difference to someone who has been sexually assaulted. Below are suggestions for supporting friends, family members, students, and colleagues.

  • Supporting a Friend or Family Member
    • Let survivors know you want to be supportive. It doesn't matter so much what you say, but how you listen. Find time to be alone with them. Listen and don't interrupt.
    • Believe them.
    • Let them know you care, using expressions of support that are comfortable for you. Here are some examples that have worked for others:
      • I cried with my friend.
      • I said, "It sounds like you were scared."
      • I asked if I could hug him, and he said yes.
    • Reassure them that they are not to blame.
    • Let them control who knows about the sexual assault. Keep the conversation as private as possible.
    • Take care of yourself, too. Hearing about someone else's traumatic experience is upsetting, and it's hard to know how to balance your needs and feelings with the survivors' needs and feelings.
  • Supporting a Student, Employee, or Community Member

    If you are an employee and a student or colleague has disclosed that they were a victim of sexual assault or relationship violence, your response and support can make a big difference.

    MSU recognizes the complexities associated with fulfilling your mandatory reporting obligations as an employee while offering support and maintaining the relationship you have built with the student or employee. For this reason the university has created the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Reporting Guide to provide employees with information about the mandatory reporting process, including what happens when a report is made, as well as tips for responding and supporting students and employees.

    It is important for you and the individual you are supporting to know the mandatory reporting process is designed to connect individuals with resources, support, and information and to provide the individual with options for addressing the reported incident. Below are some quick tips for supporting a student or colleague.

    • Listen and offer help and support.
    • Be supportive, empathetic, and sensitive. Don't judge.
    • Encourage the person to seek medical attention and talk with a confidential resource for support.
    • Explain that you cannot promise confidentiality.
    • Make sure the individual is aware of your duty to report the information to authorized individuals who are trained to respond.
    • Encourage the person to preserve evidence, including any information related to the incident, in case they wish to pursue a criminal investigation either now or in the future.
    • Inform the person of his or her right to file a criminal complaint and/or seek an order of protection or other similar lawful order.
    • Tell the person about supportive services and resources available on campus, including confidential counseling and advocacy services.
    • Tell the person MSU offers a variety of interim and protective measures to assist students and employees.
    • Let students who report their concerns to you know that OIE and the MSU Police will not notify their parent or guardian unless they are a minor.
    • Respect privacy and tell only those who need to know for reporting purposes.