Sexual assault is never the survivor's fault. Check out these resources from RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) about staying safe on campus, and steps you can take to prevent sexual assault.
Support a Friend.
- If a friend tells you he or she is being stalked, abused or was physically or sexually assaulted, believe them and support them. Listen to his or her story. Do not victim blame. These offenses have nothing to do with the victim's behavior, actions or the reality of the situation. It is not helpful to judge or investigate. Rather, the best thing you can do is support your friend.
- Sexual misconduct can lead to depression, anxiety, headaches, stomach problems, sleeping problems and other issues. Encourage your friend to get help dealing with the situation. Refer them to the UNL Victim Advocate, Women’s Center, CAPs or the Title IX Coordinator. If the person has experienced physical harm, encourage them to seek medical help.
- Ask the person how he or she would like your help. Perhaps they would like you to accompany them to the police or the hospital.
- Allow them to make personal decisions about how to proceed and support their choices even if you disagree.
- Do not respond to the alleged offender if that person reaches out to you for information. Contact with the alleged offender may put you or your friend in further danger or may impede an investigation.
- Encourage your friend to keep evidence and document everything. Encourage your friend to: (1) create and keep a log of the time, date, place and other details so they do not forget what happened; (2) keep all e-mails, texts, phone messages, letters, notes or social media messages; and (3) encourage them to photograph any damages to their personal possessions and any injuries they may have incurred.
- Respect your friend’s privacy. Do not give any information out about your friend’s situation to other friends without your friend’s consent.
Be an Active Bystander
Someone who observes a situation, but is not directly involved is called a bystander. Active Bystanders are aware of the barriers that stop observers from taking action and have learned several approaches they can use to assist someone who needs help. Common barriers to helping out in a situation are: 1) thinking it is someone else’s responsibility, 2) fear of embarrassment if you have misread the situation, 3) fear of what may happen to you, and 4) not knowing how to intervene.
UNL PREVENT peer educators teach intervention skills to students, staff and faculty who want to know how to help when they observe a dangerous or uncomfortable situation. Below are some approaches taught by PREVENT to safely intervene if you see someone in a potentially unsafe situation:
- Create a distraction. Go up to speak to the person or call the person’s cell phone to create a situation where attention is needed elsewhere. Or try to converse with the person who may be creating danger in order to allow time for the person in danger to move away.
- Engage in group intervention. Ask friends to help out with distraction or separation.
- Get an authority. Ask the bar tender, bouncer, campus authority or law enforcement authority for assistance.
- Ask the person who appears to be in danger if he or she is okay. If you think the person is in trouble, offer assistance.
For information about attending a PREVENT training, having a PREVENT training conducted, or about becoming a PREVENT peer educator contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Women’s Center at 402-472-2597.