If a friend or someone you know confides in you that they have been accused of sexual misconduct, chances are they are turning to you for help and support. You may feel conflicted, but providing support and advice does not condone the alleged behavior. It shows that you are compassionate and care for your friend.
Provide a non-judgmental listening ear. Your friend may not feel that they have many people that they can talk with, so it is important to let them know whether or not, and how much you can support them. This does not mean that you need to affirm or condone any particular behavior(s), but that you will provide a compassionate ear as they attempt to work through this experience.
LISTENING is NOT: Interrupting, yelling, injecting your feelings, changing the subject, making light of the situation, etc.
Things you can say:
Things not to say:
Another Note: If you have personal issues that might interfere with your response to this person, it would be better if you expressed your thanks for their trust in you, but let them know that you need to get someone else to help them. Please honor your boundaries while making sure your friend receives appropriate assistance.
There are individuals on campus who are available to talk with students who have been accused of sexual misconduct. Direct the friend to these campus and other community resources, and let your friend make the ultimate decision about what to do. Helping your friend access these resources is a step you can take to provide support in what may be a confusing and emotional time for both of you. Realize that you, too, have been affected. Care for your own well being and seek support/counseling if necessary.
Violence or retaliation is not the answer to helping your friend. Remember, harassing and threatening behaviors towards your friend, the reporting student, or the reporting student's friends are not helpful. These behaviors could undermine any student conduct or court proceeding taking place, and could get you or your friend into an even worse situation.
If your friend expresses an interest in contacting the reporting student to explain their side, to talk about what happened, or to try to work things out, strongly discourage this behavior. Even if your friend has good intentions, the reporting student already feels violated and further contact from your friend or 3rd parties could be perceived as intimidating, harassing and threatening to the reporting student.
Retaliation because a person has filed a good faith complaint alleging sexual misconduct, or has participated in an investigation or other process related to such a complaint, is strictly prohibited. The University will respond promptly to investigate any claims of retaliation.