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Counseling Center

Humphreys 131
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660.543.4060
Hours: 8 AM-12PM, 1PM-5PM
Summer: M-TH 7:30AM-12PM,1PM-4:30PM





help_your_friends

Helping Your Friends

Sexual assault affects those whom victims choose to share their stories with – their family members, friends and loved ones. These individuals often feel confused and nervous about what to say or do.

What Can I Do?
What if my friend was just sexually assaulted?
What are some things to avoid saying to my friend?
Get help for yourself


What Can I Do?

  • Be a supportive, empathetic and nonjudgmental listener. What is most important right now is that your friend feels safe, supported and comforted. Try not to ask too many questions and let your friend talk as s/he wishes. Recognize that your friend trusts you very much to tell you such critical information, and thank them for sharing this information with you.

  • Let your friend know that s/he is not to blame. Many survivors of sexual assault blame themselves and need to be reassured that the attacker is fully responsible for his or her actions. You can help your friend remember that no one ever deserves to be assaulted and that s/he is not to blame for what happened.

  • Believe your friend. It has taken your friend a great deal of courage to share this information with you, and your friend needs to know that you support her or him, especially because you may be one of the first individuals to learn about the assault. Accept what your friend tells you about what happened and be supportive. You may have to deal with your feelings separately if you feel that your friend was responsible for what happened.

  • Help your friend feel safe. Sexual assault is a traumatic violation of a person. Especially in the beginning, it is often difficult for survivors to be alone after a sexual assault. Offer to let your friend stay at your place or offer to stay with your friend so s/he will not be alone.

  • Explore options and resources with your friend. Offer to accompany your friend to the hospital, law enforcement agency or CPS. If you are unsure of where to go or who to talk to, call CPS/Lighthouse Services at 660-543-4060 or the Missouri Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence 24-Hour Crisis Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

  • Try not to pressure your friend toward a particular decision and accept the choice s/he makes. Your friend has been through a traumatic experience and needs to regain the freedom to decide what happens to her or him. Try not to be overly protective, and understand that your friend may make a choice different from what you think is the "right" decision. Support these choices even if you disagree with or are confused by the way your friend is responding to the assault.

  • Be patient, understanding, and available. Everyone has her or his own timetable for recovering from a sexual assault. Continue supporting your friend, even if her or his recovery process takes a very long time. Your friend may need to talk at odd hours or a great deal immediately after the assault. Support your friend as much as you can, but realize your limits and recommend the use of other resources. Also, try to be willing to give your friend the space s/he needs, even if this means not talking to you about the assault.

  • Prioritize your friend's feelings above your own. The variety of emotions you may be feeling is a normal response to the sharing of this information. Remain calm by taking a few deep breaths, and decide to tend to your own feelings at another time. Although your friend may feel supported to know that others are upset with what happened, it will upset your friend more if s/he has also to bear the burden of your anger. Talk to another trusted friend, counselor or Lighthouse staff about your feelings.

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What if my friend was just sexually assaulted?

Find out if your friend needs medical attention. Discuss the benefits of going to the hospital to check for injuries, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Try not to pressure her or him into going to the hospital – remember, this needs to be her or his decision. Exception: If your friend appears to be severely injured and refuses to seek medical help, s/he may be in shock. It is appropriate to insist on going to the hospital or calling 911 for assistance if your friend is bleeding or cannot walk, as it may be an indication of severe or internal injuries.

Explore immediate options with your friend. Offer to accompany your friend to the hospital, law enforcement agency or CPS. If you are unsure of where to go or who to talk to, call CPS/Lighthouse Services at 660-543-4060 or the Missouri Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence 24-Hour Crisis Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

Request an advocate.  If your friend decides to go to the hospital or law enforcement agency, ask her/him if s/he would like to have an advocate meet you there. Our advocates receive extensive sexual assault response training and provide supportive, nonjudgmental and confidential support throughout hospital and reporting procedures. Help your friend call the Lighthouse at 660-543-8084 and select option #1 before you leave.

Help your friend preserve evidence of the assault. If your friend decides to go to the hospital, share with her or him that it is better if s/he does not:

  • Shower
  • Drink
  • Eat
  • Change clothes
  • Use the bathroom
  • Brush teeth

    This way, evidence can be collected correctly during the exam if s/he decides to report the assault. You may want to bring extra clothes for this person to change into after the exam.

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What are some things to avoid saying to my friend?



What you say to your friend can help or hinder her or his recovery. Try to be patient with your friend and avoid judgment. Above all, let your friend know that you are there to listen. Keep in mind that silence is sometimes more helpful than a spoken response.

Here are some suggestions for verbally supporting your friend:

Try to Avoid: Instead Try:
"What did you do to protect yourself?" "Nothing you did caused this to happen."
"Are you sure what happened was really rape?" "I believe you."
"Other people have it a lot worse, you know." "It's so hard for me to realize this has happened to someone I care about so much."
"It happened for a reason." "This is so hard for me to wrap my head around."
"Just get over it. Put the experience behind you." "I'm here to listen if you need me. We can get help."
"I'm sorry." "I'm sorry that this happened to you."
"I understand." "I cannot begin to understand how terrible this is for you, but I want you to know I am here to listen."


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Get help for yourself

As someone experiencing the emotional affects of a friend or loved one’s sexual assault, you may want to seek support at Counseling and Psychological Services, 660-543-4060, Humphreys Suites 131, or another community agency. Remember that it is important that you take care of yourself. You may not realize how deeply another person’s experience can affect you.


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