Interpersonal Violence Prevention Initiative
Western Illinois University
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455-1390
What You Can Do
If you know someone affected by interpersonal violence, you will have strong feelings that you will need to acknowledge. You may be overcome with feelings of anger toward the rapist (which is OK) and toward your friend (which is not OK). You may feel a sense of powerlessness and confusion (imagine what your friend is feeling or is fighting very hard not to feel). In addition to these feelings and others, your friend may also be experiencing deep-seated feelings of regret, degradation and shame. This is where you come in.
First, be supportive - your friend may be experiencing lots of different emotions: fear, shame, anger, powerlessness, and many other emotions. Help your friend get help, but respect his or her decision about how to handle what happened. Below are some additional suggestions of ways you can help:
- Put aside your own feelings.
- Be supportive and believe, and let them know they are not alone.
- Help your friend identify all options.
- Encourage your friend to express his or her feelings about what happened.
- Be interested and empathic without prying or pressing for details.
- Try not to criticize or judge.
- Although s/he may not want to, it is extremely important for them to seek medical attention and talk to a mental health counselor or rape crisis person. It is perfectly ok to attend these appointments with your friend and it may help.
- Respect his or her decisions, however, about what s/he wants: who to tell, whether or not to report to the police, what makes him or her feel safe, etc.
- S/he will need care, comfort, and a way to heal. S/he will need to know that it is not their fault; to get medical treatment, and do deal with his/her feelings (i.e. not numb them).