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Help a Friend

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What are my options if I want to help a friend?

After experiencing sexual misconduct or relationship violence, turning to a friend for support can be one of the first things someone does. Being a friend who has been entrusted with a disclosure can feel like both a privilege and a huge responsibility.

Below you will find information about how best to support a friend who has disclosed their experience to you. There is support and resources not only for the person you're assisting but also for you.

If you are concerned that someone might be in immediate safety risk call 9-1-1.

Reporting options   Confidential options   Respond to a notice

What are things I can do?

If someone discloses to you that they have experienced sexual misconduct or relationship violence, you may be the first person they have told, the incident may have been recent or currently ongoing or it may have occurred years ago. Having a person to turn to for support can help somebody not feel alone.

No person is going to get everything right and that's okay. All you can do is your best when it comes to supporting someone. Below are some helpful tips as well as resources. No person has to move forward alone. There are also support people and resources for you as you learn how best to support a friend.

1) Start by listening.

Just listen. It takes a lot of courage for somebody to share their experience with sexual misconduct or relationship violence. Whether the incident is recent or happened in the past, there often is shame, embarrassment and fear wrapped up in disclosing those experiences. It helps to know that there is someone who can just listen.

You never know whether someone is wanting to share their experience with the hope of identifying their options moving forward or if they are just wanting to tell their story. Starting by listening offers the person disclosing the power to decide what happens next and how they would like you to support them.

If you are concerned that someone might be in immediate safety risk call 9-1-1.

2) Provide options and resources.

Provide options and resources. Linfield University is committed to providing options for students who have experienced sexual misconduct and relationship violence. Oftentimes people may not know the different options available to them including not only options in making a report, but also options in receiving support and resources.

There are options in how somebody can report to either the university or law enforcement. There are also options in how someone can receive safety and academic supports without making a report.

Reporting options  Confidential options

3) Offer support not advice or opinions.

Offer support not advice or your opinion. One reason why some people may struggle with whether or not to disclose to a close friend is concerns around blame, lack of validation and even judgment from close friends and loved ones. ​There are many myths and misconceptions about the dynamics of violence and victimization, and a common experience is self-blame and shame because of societal myths about violence.

When someone chooses to disclose their experience, and how they choose to move forward is their decision and theirs alone. You can provide a supportive place for a friend to weigh different options. How someone ultimately decides to move forward is a personal decision that is up to them.

4) Know information is private.

Keep the information shared with you private. Experiences of violence are deeply personal. Because someone has chosen to share an experience with you does not mean that person has consented for that information to be shared beyond you. Unless a person gives you permission to share their story, always assume the information is to be held private. A person has full agency to decide to who and how their story is shared.

There may be an instance in which a friend has asked you to keep information private, and you have concerns that your friend is at safety risk. If you have concerns that your friend is currently unsafe or may experience violence in the near future, you can always make a report or reach out to a confidential support person. You should let the person know that you are worried about their safety and offer them the option to report the information or to reach out to confidential support.

If you are concerned that someone might be in immediate safety risk call 9-1-1.

5) Take care of yourself.

Make time to take care of yourself. Having somebody disclose sexual misconduct or relationship violence can have an impact on you and can even trigger your own past experiences. While you are offering support to a friend, ensure that you are checking in with yourself and assessing what support you might need as well.

No person has to navigate these issues alone. Below are options you have in who you can reach out to.

There is support available

There are people both on and off-campus that you can reach out to with questions about support services as well as reporting options. Below you can look through different options to see who may be a good fit. All of the below support options will offer privacy, while some options have additional layers of confidentiality that can be applied to conversations.

You can always ask what someone's obligations are regarding mandatory reporting before sharing information with them. You can also ask questions without disclosing names or specific details about an incident.

On-campus support team   On-campus confidential   Off-campus confidential

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