Helping Someone

When someone you know or care about experiences a form of sexual harassment or sexual violence, you may experience a range of feelings, including anxiety about how best to help them. The following suggestions may help you support your friend, student or loved one.

* Please note that we use the term "survivor" instead of "victim" to refer to those who are impacted by violence and harassment. It is meant as a term of empowerment and is widely used in advocacy and activist circles to signify movement towards healing and recovery.  We acknowledge that not all people may use this term or know about its history.

Ways to Respond

  • Offer unconditional support and compassion. Tell the survivor that you believe them.
  • Don’t tell the survivor what to do. Experiencing violence may make a person feel as if s/he has lost some agency over what happens next, and it is important not to compound this by adding pressure to do things that s/he do not want to do or is not yet ready to do. There is no "right" way to cope with trauma.
  • Offer resources and information without pressure or judgment about their decisions.
  • Don’t press for details. Allow the survivor to share what s/he wants, when s/he wants.  Avoid “Why?” questions. You might be attempting to better understand or get control over the situation, but "Why?" questions may be interpreted as blaming or skeptical.  The answers won’t change what’s happened.
  • Challenge statements of self-blame.  The responsibility for the assault lies with the perpetrator(s), regardless of the person’s actions leading up to, during or after the incident.
  • If the survivor wants to seek medical attention or report the assault, offer to accompany them wherever they need to go (e.g., hospital, police station, campus security, etc.).
  • Be patient.
  • Ask how you can help. 


Take Care of Yourself

Hearing about violence can be a very upsetting experience. Here are some things to keep in mind when supporting a survivor (in addition to the suggestions above):

  • Realize that your feelings are valid. Practice self-compassion.
  • Pay attention to your own needs - this could mean setting boundaries, taking extra time for activities that you enjoy, etc.
  • If needed, seek outside resources to help you get through this difficult time:  you could talk to a counselor, your community, a close friend or hotline - just make sure that you respect the survivor's privacy.

For Faculty, Staff, Student Leaders, Resident Assistants Helping Survivors

  • Thank the survivor for trusting you enough to share, and ask them if they are getting support.  Refer the student, faculty, or staff member to appropriate resources, if desired.
  • Please refrain from asking the survivor about the details of the incident.
  • Offer options.  Be clear as to what you can and cannot do.  For example, as an advisor, you can help the student adjust their course load, withdraw from school, change a grading option and offer referrals. It is not appropriate to become an informal counselor.
  • Faculty can be supportive by offering academic flexibility as the student is likely to have difficulty focusing for a period of time.  Check to see if the student feels safe in your class/lab/section/etc.
  • Protect the survivor's privacy, especially if you are not a fully confidential resource.  As much as it’s normal to want to talk with someone when we hear upsetting situations, this should be done without names and details. If you are a Campus Security Authority (CSA) and have a reporting responsibility under the Clery Act OR if you have a reporting responsibility under Title IX, please let the person know this as early in the conversation as possible.
  • Be mindful of your own needs and self-care.  People in supporting roles may benefit from consultation or counseling with a professional.


Emotional Support


If you or someone you know has been impacted by sexual violence, dating/domestic violence, stalking, or sexual harassment, please know that there are trained and caring professionals at UC Berkeley who are available to offer support , if you wish. Every question you have is valid and important.
Advocacy and support for staff, faculty, and students is available through the the PATH to Care Center (confidential). Students may also access the Social Services unit at the Tang Center, and Staff and Faculty may receive support at Employee Assistance (formerly CARE Services) also at Tang. 
PATH to Care Center (for students)
  • Who? The PATH to Care Center provides affirming, empowering, and confidential support for those who have experienced gendered violence, including: sexual harassment, dating and intimate partner violence, sexual assault, stalking, and sexual exploitation. Advocates bring a non-judgmental, caring approach to exploring all options, rights, and resources.

  • What? The PATH to Care Center provides holistic support, helping victims/survivors to access resources related to any aspect of life that is impacted by sexual violence, intimate partner violence, stalking, or harassment. Services are provided at free-of-charge. It can accompany them to appointments, including medical, legal, administrative, and academic appointments. 

  • Where? You can reach the PATH to Care Center at (510) 642-1988.

Social Services (for students)
  • Who? Social Services provides confidential counseling support to students impacted by sexual assault, stalking, harassment, and relationship or other violence. To see our full range of services go to our website.

  • What? Social Services staff will assess a student’s immediate needs, whether they are medical, academic, legal, emotional, financial, or family-related. The staff then works with the student to develop a plan to meet those needs. They also offer student groups and workshops, including a group for sexual assault survivors. 

  • Where? You can reach Social Services at (510) 642-6074 and at the 2nd Floor of the Tang Center, Room 2280.

Be Well at Work Employee Assistance

  • Who? Be Well at Work Employee Assistance is the campus faculty and staff assistance program providing free, confidential problem assessment and referral for UC Berkeley faculty and staff. It is also the employee assistance program for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Employee Assistance also provides free and confidential consultation and training services for faculty and staff management and campus administration related to problems that impact workplace functioning. 

  • What? Employee Assistance offers problem assessment, crisis intervention, and referral to community resources

  • Where? You can reach Employee Assistance at (510) 643-7754.



Academic Support

Following an incidence of violence, people often experience a range of reactions that can impact their ability to perform well at school or work.  Some of these include:

  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • An inability to concentrate or focus
  • Preoccupation with the event
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Fear of leaving a safe space

A student experiencing the above may want to reduce their academic load for the semester. When there has been a serious situation, the campus will support a change in academic requirements, even after deadlines. This may include:

  • Dropping classes
  • Changing grading option to P/NP
  • Withdrawing for a semester

Professors may also provide flexibility in deadlines and work with students to complete a course when proper documentation is provided. To get documentation for academic changes or missed work, students can meet with a counselor at UHS. College Advisors are also great resources for discussing options.

If students develop chronic symptoms, registering as a disabled student may be appropriate in order to have a reduced course load for an extended period. 

Staff may wish to work with their supervisor and Human Resources to determine appropriate accommodations to their job responsibilities.

Other Resources:  

Campus Academic Resources

Disabled Students' Program

Ombudsperson for Students and Postdoctoral Appointees

Staff Ombuds Office 

Disability Management Services for Staff



University Health Services offers students after-hours emergency consultation with a counselor 
and crisis resource referrals by calling (855) 817-5667.