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Helping a Friend


Even when the actual assault is over, your friend may experience a variety of difficulties following a sexual assault. People respond to assaults differently, ranging from extreme calm to extreme agitation.

Your friend may experience any or all of the following reactions: emotional shock, denial, nightmares, sleeplessness, intrusive memories or thoughts about the assault, inability to work or make decisions, impaired relationships, and feelings of guilt, despair, depression, fear, anxiety, self-blame, and anger. Many survivors appear to themselves and to others to have their feelings in control, only to become extremely upset again within a short time. Some of these reactions may be short-lived; others can be for months or years. It is important to know that help is available. Contact Pratt Health and Counseling Office at 718.399.4542 for more information.


Despite your best intentions, you need to realize there are limits to what a friend can do to help. At times your friend may not want to deal with the assault and, as a result, may even avoid you. If you need to express feelings your friend doesn’t want to or need to hear, find a trustworthy confidant or counselor. There will also be times when you need time off from helping, or when you should help your friend find other support. Friends are often essential support in the recovery process, but also remember that a counselor with expertise in treating survivors of sexual assault can play a very important role in your friend’s recovery.


For assistance, you or your friend may contact:

  • Pratt Health and Counseling: 718.399.4542, Willoughby Hall, Suite 117
  • Rape, Sexual Assault, and Incest 24-Hour Hotline: 212.227.3000
  • Crimes Victims 24-Hour Hotline: 212.577.7777
  • Safe Horizon Counseling Center: 347.328.8110
  • Pratt Campus Security: 718.636.3540
  • Your Pratt Residence Hall Director and/or RA

In addition to supporting your friend, learn more about the issues, take action, and work to prevent sexual assault and rape in the future.

  • Learn the facts by reading books on the subject.
  • Share what you learn with friends of all genders.
  • Attend campus and community sexual violence awareness events.
  • Think about and learn to recognize the connection between sexual assault and other manifestations of inequality such as sexual harassment, racism, and violence against gays and lesbians.
  • Work with others in the community who share your concerns regarding sexual violence.