Friends and family members are often in the best position to provide needed support to an individual who has experienced harm or been accused of causing harm to someone else. A friend or family member is usually the first, and often only, person to learn about an incident of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating/domestic violence, or stalking. A friend or family member is also likely the first to hear when an individual receives notice that they have been accused of harming someone else.
In either situation, individuals with the strongest emotional attachments may be inclined to question their son, daughter, or friend's decision-making. An individual’s call for help might become an "I told you so" moment or a lecture on personal safety and risk reduction. This is a natural way of coping with a difficult situation. Unfortunately, it may add to feelings of blame or guilt that reduce the likelihood of someone reporting an incident or asking for needed assistance.
In addition to being familiar with how to respond to a disclosure or to someone accused, friends and family members may be in the best position to identify when someone is struggling to cope. You and your loved one are not alone. There are confidential resources available to offer support.