How to Respond if Someone You Know is Accused

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

If someone you know, even a friend or family member, has been accused of sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, or sexual harassment (all are Title IX violations) it is often difficult to process how you should respond. The Aurora Center doesn't typically provide services to someone who has been accused of Title IX violations, but here are some tools for you when having a conversation with them:

Considerations for You

  • You may have emotions or feelings of shock, denial, uncertainty, betrayal, sadness, disappointment, or concern
  • Whatever feelings you have are appropriate and should be acknowledged
  • Consider seeking counseling services to process
  • The accused may turn to you for support or for help - you are allowed to set healthy boundaries
  • Offer to listen and be non-judgemental, if you are able
  • Learn more about sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, and harassment.
    Understand that these issues are about power and control, not sex and desire. Visit our “Get Educated” page for more information
  • Remember, as a friend:
    • You may only hear one side of the story when multiple sides exist
    • You are not expected to approve of an accused persons' actions, opinions, or decisions
    • You are not expected to pick a side in these kinds of situations
    • You can be supportive of a person in general (caring for their humanity and welfare) and treat them with dignity, but also hold that person accountable to their actions, opinions, or decisions
    • You can reaffirm and state your values that sexual misconduct is not okay while also not accuse your friend of something you may not have all the information on
    • The legal system, HR department, and/or trained university administrators will determine whether or not a crime or policy violation has taken place, this is not your responsibility or role
    • Violence and retaliation are not appropriate, nor helpful to you, your friend, or the victim/survivor 
    • Everyone will have different reactions and ways to process the situation. Allow for space, for sharing, and for healing for all

See more information and resources on the Aurora Center for Advocacy & Education website, as well as a Guide to Difficult Conversations with Someone You Care About


"Perspectives" stories are the views and opinions of their authors and do not necessarily reflect any official position of the University of Minnesota.