Resources - How to Help Others

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Whether you are an RA, room mate, friend, classmate, faculty, staff, or just someone who is concerned for someone you think may be dealing with trauma caused by sexual assault/misconduct/harassment, an unhealthy relationship or stalking, here are some tips on how to handle a conversation about it.

HOW DO I HELP?

There are 5 main things to do: Listen. Believe. Support. Refer and Connect. Take Care of Yourself. 

If someone approaches you and wants to share their story of a traumatic event or experience, trust that they chose you for a reason. Start by telling them that you are sorry that someone hurt them and ask how you can help. You can inform them that Saint Mary's College has resources on campus available to support them and help them decide what to do next. If you are a mandated reporter, inform them that you are. Offer to connect them to a confidential resource (Director of the CARE Center - Megan Gallagher, Counseing & Psychological Services, or a priest in a confessional). If they choose to share, then...

  • LISTEN - Let them lead the conversation. Really hear what they are saying. Do not interrupt unless you truly have to ask a clarifying question that will help you to support them. Do not worry if you feel like you do not know exactly what to say. Be authentic and tell them you just want to help and do not know how. It is more important that you spend the time to truly hear what they are saying so that they feel heard. Just sharing the information with you may be all they need in that moment. 
  • BELIEVE - Tell them that you believe them; it is essential to promote their healing process in a positive way. Do not provide your opinions or tell them what they should or should not have done. Listen and believe what they are telling you, without judgement. Be empathetic but not sympathetic. 
  • SUPPORT - Allow this person the time and space they need to process what they are sharing with you and to make decisions based on what is best for them in the moment. Know that their decisions may change in the moment and/or over time. Do not tell them what you would do in the situation. Always be aware that this is about them and this moment. By doing this, you are empowering them to make choices and to gain some control back from something that was out of their control. It can be helpful to present options to them, if you are comfortable, and support them in reaching out.
  • REFER AND CONNECT - Saint Mary's College has many resources for students; it is difficult to know them all and/or understand what they can do. If you are reading this, there is a "resources" tab on this web page that can help point you in the right direction. If unsure, you can always call or text the CARE Line anonymously (925) 878-9207 or contact Megan Gallagher for a confidential meeting. Students are often able to have a support person accompany them to meetings.
  • TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF - If someone shares their traumatic experience with you, you may also experience many of your own emotions. Be aware of your own experiences of trauma. It is important to know and express your own boundaries and limits in supporting this person. Remember that you need to care for yourself first before you can be at your best in supporting a friend. It is OK to be aware and express that you may not be able to and always refer to someone who can.

SUGGESTIONS ON WHAT TO SAY IN THE MOMENT:

  • "I am here for you when you are ready to talk about it. And if you aren't, that's ok too. I am here for you."
  • "I am here to support you - no matter what you choose."
  • "I am concerned for you; please tell me how I can help you get through this."
  • "You seem to be having a difficult time with this. If you want to talk about it, I'm happy to just listen."