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If you are concerned that a family member, friend or fellow Sun Devil may be experiencing sexual violence or is in an abusive relationship, respond with support. It can be difficult to support someone through these experiences, but by listening to them and validating their experience you can help them begin to define their own healing process.
Be aware of the following warning signs that suggest someone may be in distress.
Below are some tips to guide your discussion when supporting a survivor of sexual or relationship violence.
It can be intimidating to support someone who has experienced violence, but what matters most is holding a compassionate space for the other person in which they have complete control. Survivors and victims of this form of violence have already had their power and control removed and their autonomy disrespected, make sure to return as much of that power and autonomy back as you work to support them. Ask them how they want to be supported, what they need right now and if they feel safe. Let them decide their next steps and support them as best as you can as they take those steps.
Know that you are not alone in supporting someone in distress. Part of effectively supporting a friend is knowing the boundaries of your role.
There are resources available at ASU to support your peer in getting help and we encourage you to contact them as needed. Visit Sexual Violence Awareness, Prevention and Response for more information on the confidential and private resources available at ASU. Counseling and support resources are available for those who have experienced distress or a friend who has become aware of distress.
It is important to acknowledge that due to experiences of trauma, such as those related to sexual and relationship violence, a victim or survivor may have difficulty engaging in any number of the health recommendations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. One of these recommendations, wearing masks or face coverings, may closely mimic aspects of previous experiences of violence. This could trigger flashbacks, feelings of distress and more.
We can support victims and survivors by working to find ways to help them navigate their own safety and well-being, both physically and mentally, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consider the following: