Helping Someone Else

How to help others

It can be challenging to be prepared when someone tells you that they’ve been accused of sexual harassment or violence. Below are some suggestions on how to respond and support.
If someone tells you that they have been accused of sexual harassment or violence:

  • Acknowledge: Thank them for trusting you and acknowledge their feelings. 
  • Listen: Give them your complete attention and try not to interrupt. Use empathetic listening and ask things like, "What can I do to support you?" and "What can I do to help you right now?"
  • Support: Let them know that you want to make sure they're safe and offer them nonjudgemental support. Offer to accompany them or make a phone call to connect them with resources. 
  • Be patient: Be careful not to ask what happened, ask for details, or compare/discuss your personal experience. Don't offer easy answers like, "Everything will be alright" or "Just move on."


  • Respect their privacy. Don't tell friends, classmates, or colleagues what happened. 
  • Respect their experience. Don't question whether they are telling the truth, say that you know what they're going through, or ask for details about the incident.
  • Respect the situation. Do not offer to contact the Complainant on the Respondent's behalf. This could be seen as retaliation. 
  • Respect the process. Don't destroy any possible evidence. 
  • Don't case blame on the Respondent or on the Complainant. 

Refer: You are not expected to have all of the answers, and it is not your responsibility to fix the problem or determine what occurred. An important part of being helpful is providing the individual with information about options and resources. Please refer to the resources and other options detailed in this Respondent’s Guide. And don’t investigate on your own.

Get support for yourself: Sometimes friends and family of people who have been accused can also feel the impact of the incident. Hearing about sexual assault, dating or domestic violence, and stalking can be upsetting. You may want to utilize resources and support for yourself. The resources listed in the next section are available for parties, witnesses, and impacted individuals as well.