Supporting a Friend who is a Respondent

If someone confides in you that they’ve been accused of sexual misconduct, knowing what to do next can be hard. Feeling emotionally conflicted and confused about how to respond is natural. If someone accused turns to you for help, know that listening and referring them to support resources is an important way to show support.

  • Listen actively and without judgment. Listening isn’t condoning what may or may not have happened. You don’t need to take sides or even express your opinion at all. Just listen.
  • Do not minimize their actions. They clearly value you and your opinion if they are talking with you, and minimizing their actions makes them more likely to continue the behavior.
  • Encourage them not to contact the Complainant or their friends.
  • Encourage them to reach out to support resources on-campus and off-campus.
  • Support Yourself. Remember that you cannot effectively support anyone unless you take care of your own emotional, physical and mental health. Supporting someone who is dealing with sexual assault allegations can be confusing and emotionally draining. Remember that the resources available to your friend are available to you too.