Ways You Can Help Victims
How do you help a friend affected by sexual harassment or violence?
If someone you know shows signs that they are experiencing, or have been a victim of, harassment, sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, or stalking, there are ways you can help:
- Believe them! Don’t immediately question or dismiss their experience.
- Listen to your friend. Keep questions to a minimum and ask how you can help.
- Assure them that it is not their fault that this has happened.
- Tell them that help is available! Direct them to APU's information on how to report abuse and who they can contact for support. Let them know that you are here to support them in whatever choices they make.
If you believe that someone you know may be experiencing sexual violence of some kind, let them know you care about their wellbeing and encourage them to seek help. Getting help promptly can alleviate crisis and protect the health and wellbeing of your friend.
People who have experienced harassment or abuse may feel:
- Shock, disbelief, numbness, withdrawal.
- Preoccupation with thoughts and feelings about the assault.
- Unwanted memories, flashbacks, and/or nightmares.
- Intense anger, fear, anxiety, or depression.
- Physical symptoms such as sleep disturbance, headaches, or stomachaches.
- Inability to concentrate; loss of focus on academics and lower grades.
- Loss of interest in sex.
- Fears about safety.
- Feelings of guilt and shame.
Become an active bystander:
Bystanders greatly outnumber both perpetrators and victims and have the power to prevent abuse and get help for people who have been victimized. Active bystanders are individuals who are aware of an abusive situation, and choose to speak up and say or do something without putting their own safety at risk.
The power to stop sexual violence is not limited to eyewitness heroics or endangering your own safety. Things you can do before or after an instance of violence can help prevent abuse from happening at Azusa Pacific:
- Always ask your partner for consent in intimate situations.
- Call 911 if there is immediate danger to you or someone else.
- Speak up if someone says or does something indicating intent to commit sexual violence, like stopping a friend from driving drunk, or stopping a friend or teammate from inappropriate actions. By intervening, you can help protect more than one person.
- Respect your peers, including fellow students, faculty, staff, and guests. Say something to protest offensive or derogatory remarks, including sexist or racist jokes. If you sense trouble, ask the affected person if help is needed.
- Review available resources for more information on understanding and helping prevent abuse.