Supporting a Friend

The 2010 NUS Hidden Marks survey revealed that 1 in 7 women students (14%) has been the victim of serious sexual assault or serious physical violence while at university or college. It is thus likely that one of your friends or peers has been subjected to harassment, stalking, violence or sexual assault. The Hidden Marks survey also revealed that across all offence categories, respondents were most likely to tell their friends what had happened to them, followed by family members and partners. If a friend comes to you looking for support, it is important to know how to react.

Some of the simplest, yet most important, things you can do to support your friend include listening to her, believing her, respecting her decisions and giving practical support like going with her to appointments. Allow her to make her own decisions, keep the lines of communication open and be patient.

View questions and answers which may be relevant to your situation below.

I am worried my friend is in an emergency situation – what should I do?

My friend has been raped/sexually assaulted – what can I do?
My friend is being sexually harassed – what can I do?
My friend is being stalked – what can I do?
My friend has been physically assaulted – what can I do?
My friend is experiencing domestic violence – what can I do?
How can I prepare myself for supporting others?

My friend has been raped/sexually assaulted – what should I do?

In an emergency dial 999. Stay calm and speak clearly. Follow the instructions you are given. (Deaf and deafened people using a Textphone (minicom) should dial 18000 in an emergency.)

Read the Rape Crisis website entitled ‘Giving Support’ which includes subsections on how to help and what not to do.

www.rapecrisis.org.uk/givingsupport2.php

The havens website also has a section giving useful advice on supporting someone who has been raped or sexually assaulted.

www.thehavens.co.uk/advice.php

The Rape Crisis national freephone helpline is designed not only for victims, but also their friends, partners and family. You can call them on 0808 802 9999 (12-2.30, 7-9.30 every day of the year).

Do also read the Support section of this website for information on other national support services available to your friend.

As well as national support services, your student union will be able to help your friend get the support she needs. Your student union is designed to be your first port-of-call for resolving any problems you experience as a student and will be able to help you find the support you need. If your institution has a Student Advice Service, they will be able to direct you to the most relevant person or service. Alternatively contact the Welfare Officer, Women’s Officer or President of your Student Union.

My friend is experiencing domestic violence – what should I do?

In an emergency dial 999. Stay calm and speak clearly. Follow the instructions you are given. (Deaf and deafened people using a Textphone (minicom) should dial 18000 in an emergency.)

The Women’s Aid website has a great section on what to do if a friend is experiencing domestic violence. To view, click on the link below:

www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic-violence-articles.asp?section=00010001002200410001&itemid=1296&itemTitle=Support+for+family+and+friends+of+women

Also read the Support section of this website for information on other national support services available to your friend.

As well as national support services, your student union will be able to help your friend get the support she needs. Your student union is designed to be your first port-of-call for resolving any problems you experience as a student and will be able to help you find the support you need. If your institution has a Student Advice Service, they will be able to direct you to the most relevant person or service. Alternatively contact the Welfare Officer, Women’s Officer or President of your Student Union.

My friend has been physically assaulted – what should I do?

In an emergency, dial 999. Stay calm and speak clearly. Follow the instructions you are given. (Deaf and deafened people using a Textphone (minicom) should dial 18000 in an emergency.)

The Victim Supportline is for those affected by crime as well as direct victims. It is there for people to talk about their experience of crime anonymously and in confidence. Supportline volunteers can give you emotional support and information over the phone and put you in touch with Victim Support local offices and with other organisations that can help your friend. Call 0845 3030900 (9am – 9pm Mondays to Fridays, 9am – 7pm weekends, 9am – 5pm bank holidays).

If you are worried about a friend’s physical health following a violent assault, call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 for health advice and reassurance, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Please also see the Support section of this website for information on other national support services which may be useful to your friend.

As well as national support services, your student union will be able to help your friend get the support she needs. Your student union is designed to be your first port-of-call for resolving any problems you experience as a student and will be able to help you find the support you need. If your institution has a Student Advice Service, they will be able to direct you to the most relevant person or service. Alternatively contact the Welfare Officer, Women’s Officer or President of your Student Union.

My friend is being stalked – what should I do?

In an emergency, dial 999. Stay calm and speak clearly. Follow the instructions you are given. (Deaf and deafened people using a Textphone (minicom) should dial 18000 in an emergency.)

The National Stalking Helpline is not only for victims of stalking, but also for those who know someone that is being stalked. Call them on 0300 636 0300 (09:30 – 16:00 Weekdays, except Wed 13:00 – 16:00) for advice and information.

You may also find it useful to look at the following websites for information on how to tell if someone is stalking you, what to do if you are being stalked and how to gather evidence of stalking. You can help your friend find the sections relevant to her.

Network for Surviving Stalking

www.nss.org.uk/advice/

Tracy Morgan’s Weblog

traceymorgan.wordpress.com/advice-if-you-think-youre-being-stalked/

Do also read the Support section of this website for information on other national support services available to your friend.

As well as national support services, your student union will be able to help your friend get the support she needs. Your student union is designed to be your first port-of-call for resolving any problems you experience as a student and will be able to help you find the support you need. If your institution has a Student Advice Service, they will be able to direct you to the most relevant person or service. Alternatively contact the Welfare Officer, Women’s Officer or President of your Student Union.

My friend is being sexually harassed – what should I do?

In an emergency, dial 999. Stay calm and speak clearly. Follow the instructions you are given. (Deaf and deafened people using a Textphone (minicom) should dial 18000 in an emergency.)

The US-based Sexual Harassment Support website has a section on what to do if a friend has been sexually harassed.

www.sexualharassmentsupport.org/Recovery.html

You may want to also browse the rest of the Sexual Harassment Support website which has useful information on topics such as sexual harassment in education; why sexual harassment is difficult to confront; effects of sexual harassment and what to do if you are being sexually harassed, that may be helpful to your friend.

www.sexualharassmentsupport.org/index.html

Also read the Support section of this website which lists other information and advice resources that your friend may find useful.

As well as national support services, your student union will be able to help your friend get the support she needs. Your student union is designed to be your first port-of-call for resolving any problems you experience as a student and will be able to help you find the support you need. If your institution has a Student Advice Service, they will be able to direct you to the most relevant person or service. Alternatively contact the Welfare Officer, Women’s Officer or President of your Student Union.

How can I prepare myself for supporting others?

  • Familiarise yourself with emergency support services

Find out about 999 services – en.wikipedia.org/wiki/999_(emergency_telephone_number)

e.g. Read this Guardian article about how best to handle 999 calls, including transcripts.

www.guardian.co.uk/society/2008/nov/29/unpublished-999-call-transcripts

Find your local police force website from the directory on this website:

www.police.uk/forces.htm

Learn about Accident and Emergency departments

www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices/Emergencyandurgentcareservices/Pages/AE.aspx

  • Familiarise yourself with general victim support services

Browse the information under the ‘physical violence’ heading in the support section of this website for information about general victim support services.

  • Familiarise yourself with specific support services

Browse the support section of this website for information about support services for rape/sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, physical violence and domestic violence.

  • Learn First Aid

Find out about British Red Cross First Aid courses across the UK on this website:

www.redcross.org.uk/What-we-do/First-aid/First-aid-training

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