If someone you know has experienced sexual violence, there are lots of ways in which you can help them. You should be as supportive and non-judgemental as possible.
Sometimes support means providing resources, such as how to access support services or helplines, seek medical attention, or report the crime to the police. But often, just listening and being there is the best way to support them.
If you are a member of staff worried about a student, you should read the Sexual Violence: Staff Supporting Students guide.
- Are they in immediate danger? If they are seriously injured, ask them if they are happy for you to call Security who can provide first aid or advice on calling an ambulance or take them to A & E for medical treatment. Do not report to the police without their permission unless they (or anyone else) are in immediate danger.
- Find a safe space. If an incident has just happened, try and find somewhere they feel safe. If this isn't possible and they are scared or fearful you can suggest you call security together.
- Let them decide what happens next. Everyone deals with sexual violence differently. While you might be someone who needs to talk through things, maybe they don’t want to talk about it at all. It’s important to let them decide what happens next. Ask them what they need and then respect their wishes. Don’t ever try to force them into doing or saying something that makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Listen. If they do want to talk, just taking the time to listen about what has happened can help, even if it’s difficult for you to hear. You might have a lot of questions but try not to interrupt.
- Ask them how you can help . You might have ideas about what they should or shouldn’t be doing but it's important to allow them to come to their own decisions without feeling pressured.
- Remind them they are not alone and it is not their fault . Let them know that you are there for them and remind them, maybe even more than once, that they are not to blame. Ask if there is anyone else in their life they feel comfortable talking to about what has happened, and remind them that there is support available from both from LBSU and from other organisations if they want it.
- Check in with them . They might be withdrawing from their regular activities and, while it’s important to respect their wishes, it’s also helpful to continue to show your support beyond the first few days. Just sending texts or emails, or calling on a regular basis, will show them that you care and that you haven’t left them alone. They’re more likely to reach out for help if they know you’re in this with them.
- Educate yourself . This site has lots of information to help you and links to specialist services. It's important not to betray their trust by telling others about their experiences without their permission, but you can talk confidentially to and get specialist advice or support for yourself from external support services.
- Look after yourself. Supporting someone can be difficult and it's OK to take time and space for yourself sometimes. You may feel upset, angry or helpless. If this is the case, it's important that you seek help for yourself.