Supporting someone else

It can be difficult to know how to help someone who has been subjected to sexual violence, it can be a frightening and confusing time for them and for you. It is important that they are aware of the support available from the University and external support services.

If you are concerned about the wellbeing of another student and would like to talk to someone, please email responder@contacts.bham.ac.uk or use the online disclosure tool. You can also suggest that they contact Horizon Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC), of someone needs urgent assistance please contact the police by calling 999.  

You may wish to consider the following advice on how to offer support: 

  • It is important that the person feels that they are believed, so it is important that you listen and remain non-judgmental. Often the person can blame themselves, feelings of guilt and shame are not uncommon so it is important that they know what happened is not their fault. 
  • Try to be supportive without giving advice. It is important that the individual can determine how to proceed and feel that they can make the decisions. Accept it is the person's choice of what to do. It may be helpful to look at the options, and encourage independent decision making, even if you disagree. 
  • Don't ask why the assault happened, this may lead to the person feeling they could have done something to prevent the assault - which they couldn't.
  • Look after yourself. It is important that you take care of yourself and seek support if needed. It is common to need support when supporting someone else.
  • Be patient. They may not want to talk right now and you may feel that you are not doing enough but just being there may be all they need at the moment. It is important that you don't force an individual to give you information. 
  • Encourage and empower the individual to get support from professional services.

Useful resources 

Rape and Sexual Violence Project - Advice on supporting a survivor of rape and sexual abuse 

Colleges

Professional Services