How to Help a Friend who has suffered an assault

Believe your friend: Accept, validate, and acknowledge your friend’s feelings.
Listen, offering compassion, encouragement, and supportive statements, such as:

  1. “You don’t deserve to be treated this way; you deserve better than this.”
  2. “You are not alone: others have experienced this problem.”
  3. “I’m afraid for your safety (and for that of your children, if applicable).”
  4. “Chances are, without intervention, this will get worse.”
  5. “I’m here to help you.”

Be clear that the abuse is not your friend’s fault.

Resist seeing your friend as a victim.

Show your friend respect.

Identify and emphasize your friend’s strengths.

Be aware that your friend may be feeling embarrassment or shame. Accept that your friend may return to the batterer for the time being.

Respect your friend’s right to self-determination, and to make her/his own decisions.

Give information about options in a neutral, non-judgmental way.

Empathize. Allow your friend to vent her/his feelings, if desired, and echo them.

Let your friend know that her/his feelings and reactions, whatever they are, are normal.

Give only realistic reassurance.

Let your friend know about community resources such as:

  1. Gillette Abuse Refuge Foundation (GARF)
    PO Box 3110
    910 E. 3rd St., Ste I, Gillette, WY 82717
    Crisis Line: 307-686-8070
    Office: 307-686-8071
    FAX: 307-686-8076
  2. Advocacy & Resource Center
    PO Box 581
    136 Coffeen, Sheridan, WY 82801
    24 Hour Crisis Line: 307-672-3222
    Office: 307-672-7471
    FAX: 307-672-5259
  3. Family Crisis Center
    PO Box 1001
    255 E. Fetterman, Buffalo, WY 82834
    Toll Free Crisis Line: 877-684-2030
    Office: 307-684-2233
    FAX 307-684-0878

If your friend is a Gillette College student, let her/him know about available on-campus resources, such as:

  • Student Advisors
  • Coordinator of Residential Life and Housing
  • Dean of Student Affairs
  • Counseling Services (307-686-0254 ext. 2011)

If your friend is a Sheridan College student, let her/him know about available on-campus resources, such as:

  • Counseling Services (307-674-6446 ext. 2008)
  • Director of Housing  and Residential Life
  • Student Advisors
  • Dean of Student Affairs

You can also contact:

National Sexual Assault Hotline
1-800-656-4673 24 hour helpline

National Domestic Violence Hotline

What to Avoid:

1.  Using loaded questions, such as:

  • “You’re not planning to stay with this partner, are you?”
  • “You’re planning to leave for good, aren’t you?”
  • “You don’t use any drugs or alcohol, do you?

“Are you…” is a more neutral way to ask questions.

2.  Giving orders or making moral judgments, such as:

  • “If you really cared about your children, you’d leave.”
  • “A smart person wouldn’t stay there and take that.”
  • “You should get out of there.”
  • “You have to file criminal charges”
  • “You can’t let your partner get away with that. You ought to get a restraining order.”

3.  Giving advice, such as:

  • “What you really need to do is leave.”
  • “If I were you, I’d file for sole custody of the children.”
  • “I think you should testify against your partner in court.”

Remember to give information, not advice, to allow your friend to make her/his own decisions.

4.  Slamming the abuser, such as:

  • “He’s a monster. He needs to be locked up.”
  • “What do you see in this partner?”

Remember to target specific, abusive behaviors, rather than the abuser.

5.  Offering unrealistic assurance, such as:

  • “I think everything is going to work out for you.”
  • “Don’t worry. Everything will be fine.”
  • “A year from now you’ll look back at this and laugh.”

Even well-intentioned comments can trivialize the seriousness of your friend’s situation. The person in an abusive relationship benefits from a realistic appraisal of circumstances and options.

6.  Story Topping, such as:

  • “You think that’s bad? I saw someone last week with two black eyes and a broken arm.”
  • “I’ve seen someone beat up a lot worse than this.”

Remarks like these discount your friend’s feelings.

Technical Education Center (TEC) Building:212B

Counseling Services: 307-686-0254 ext. 2350

Anonymous Online Screenings

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