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  • If your friend or partner is the victim of sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking or sexual harassment, you probably want nothing more than to help them. Keep in mind there’s no instruction manual for helping a victim. Everyone is different. There’s no right or wrong reaction to trauma. Your friend might completely shut down or go out of their way to seem “normal” – like nothing happened. But even in the midst of feeling sad, angry, uncomfortable, scared, confused or powerless, there are safe, healthy ways to support your friend and yourself during this difficult time.

    Believe - It takes courage for your friend to speak up. The most important thing you can do to support your friend or partner is to tell them that you believe them and are there for them. Your friend/partner is vulnerable, and your reaction can influence whether or not they choose to share information with others, including the police or mental and physical health counseling services. Stay calm and non-judgmental. Tell your friend you believe them and want to support them however you can.

    Listen – Listen actively and without judgement. You may want to offer advice or ask questions, but your job right now is to listen and let your friend/partner tell you the details they want to share with you.

    Assure – Tell your friend/partner that what happened wasn’t their fault. Many victims of sexual violence struggle with self-doubt and self-blame. As their trusted friend/partner, assure and reassure them that this wasn’t their fault.

    Be Supportive – Refrain from judgement and ask your friend/partner how you can support them. Recognize that this was not an easy thing to share.

    Maintain Privacy – Unless your friend/partner gives permission, do not share what happened with anyone else. Let them be in control of how they move forward and heal. If you are seriously concerned about the well-being of your friend/partner, you can reach out to confidential support services at Eastern to help determine the next best steps to help your friend/partner.

    Support Yourself – Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Supporting a friend or partner through a traumatic event can be emotionally draining. You can’t properly support your friend/partner if you aren’t taking care of your own physical, mental, and emotional health as well. Remember that all support services available to your friend or partner are available to you too.

  • As an employee of the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system, you have an obligation to report to the Office of Equity and Diversity if you witness or receive a report of sexual violence, domestic violence, or stalking. Here are some things you should do to support a student who comes to you looking to disclose to you or seeking advice:

    • Thank the student for coming to you and trusting you to listen to them. Ask them if there is anything you can do to help them
    • Inform them of your obligation as a mandated reporter before they disclose to you. Some students may not be ready to report the incident to the university so telling them of your obligation will allow them to decide whether or not they’d like to disclose to you or a confidential support.
    • Address any medical concerns, if applicable. Stress the importance of preserving evidence. Inform the student that they do not need to make a report or press charges in order to get medical care.
    • Encourage the student to make a report with the Equity and Diversity Office and the police.
    • Connect the student to resources found here “There are a number of places on and off campus that can provide you with help, information and support. Detailed information is contained online at Available resources include counseling, or discussing the need for adjustments to courses, work or living situations.”
    • Report the information to the Title IX office.

    Do NOT promise confidentiality. As a responsible employee, you are not able to keep information disclosed to you confidential. However, you can offer privacy and discretion.

    Do NOT try to investigate the information shared with you or try to mediate the situation between the people involved.

  • As the Guardian to your child, they may disclose their assault to you. In order to best support them, here are some helpful tips you may want to utilize:

    • Remain Calm. As a guardian, you may feel shocked, outraged, and upset that your child was hurt. However, your child’s feelings should come first right now. Try to refrain from letting your emotions take over and focus on supporting your child.
    • Listen actively and without judgement. You may want to offer advice or ask questions, but your job right now is to listen and let your child tell you the details they want to share with you.
    • Believe them. Make sure your child knows that you believe them and tell them that what happened to them is not their fault.
    • Support them.
      • Allow your child to take control of the situation. Refrain from trying to make decisions for them about how to move forward and ask them how they would like to work towards healing from this. (e.g. filing a report, getting counseling, reaching out to teachers for academic support)
      • Encourage your child to seek supportive services such as counseling and academic assistance
      • Be patient. Processing trauma and healing takes time
    • Take care of yourself. Seek counseling or support services for yourself if you find that you are struggling and need someone to talk to or process this with.