How to Support a Friend

We believe that students can and should be empowered and informed on how to address these topics when they arise within themselves and people they know; our How to Support a Friend resource series offers folx information on where resources are located on campus and within the larger city and county areas, as well as useful information on processing these situations. Please see the sections below for individual topics and the related links to resources. If you feel like your friend may be navigating any of these issues below, please do not hesitate to connect with us for support. 

Abusive Relationships

Relationship abuse is the use of intimidation and/or force by one person to maintain power over another. It can include any form of verbal, emotional, mental, physical spiritual and/or sexual abuse or violence, and can happen in all types of relationships. In an abusive relationship it is not unusual for the abuser to express remorse after a violent outburst and then ask for forgiveness, promising that “it will never happen again.” Unfortunately, it usually does, thus perpetuating a cycle of abuse.

Disordered Eating

Disordered eating can be characterized by extreme thoughts, emotions or attitudes about food, body size and/or shape. Often, it is a dangerous response to psychological and/or emotional stress in a person’s life or past experiences. The three most common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. It is possible to suffer from more than one eating disorder at a time.

Low Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is related to your opinion of yourself. High self-esteem is a good opinion of yourself, and low self-esteem is a bad opinion of yourself. The causes of low self-esteem can be deeply rooted in a person’s past, sometimes stemming from childhood experiences. Low self-esteem can result from or contribute to other conditions including, but not limited to, abusive relationships, body image issues, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety.


Every individual has the fundamental right to make choices about their pregnancy. Anyone facing an unplanned pregnancy will need to make some of the most important decisions of their life. Your friend has the right to choose an option they feel is best for them at this time in their life. They may decide to carry the pregnancy to term, to keep the baby or place the child for adoption, or they may choose to have an abortion. As a friend, it is important that you respect your friend’s decisions, regardless of your own personal values or beliefs. After your friend has made a choice, you can continue to be supportive in the way you feel the most comfortable.

Facing Depression

Sadness is a proportional temporary reaction to a disappointment or loss. Depression is long lasting and characterized by hopelessness, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, and withdrawal from social connections. Depression can also have physical symptoms such as pain, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, and weight change. If you need a hard copy of the information and resources we provide on this topic, please come to the WRRC. 

Suicidal Thoughts

Not all thoughts of harming or ending one's life lead to suicide, but they should always be taken seriously. There is an increased risk of suicide for people with family history of suicide, violence, mental illness(es), and/or drug abuse. Some behaviors that indicate that somebody might be thinking about suicide include: significant sadness, expressions of hopelessness, self-destructive behaviors, withdrawal from others, seemingly sudden calm or happy after long struggle with sadness, and fixation with death. Someone considering suicide may give away valued objects to friends or compose a note. If you need a hard copy of the information and resources we provide on this topic, please come to the WRRC. 

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is any unwanted, non-consensual sexual act in which a person is threatened, coerced or forced to comply against their will, or where a person is unable to give consent because they are a minor, unconscious, asleep or incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol. Sexual assault can include unwanted, non-consensual oral, anal or vaginal sexual intercourse, penetration with a foreign object (i.e. fingers, sex toys, etc.) or sexual battery (non-consensual touching of the breasts, buttocks or genitalia).

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance. This includes requests for sexual favors and other verbal, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature that interferes with your work or education. It may also create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or learning environment. Sexual harassment commonly occurs, but is infrequently discussed, as it often makes people feel uneasy. We hear people joke about it, but when it happens, it can cause emotional, psychological, physical and material harm. The specific impact varies from person to person. Remember, sexual harassment is against the law and university policy

Stalking Situations

Stalking is defined as unwanted pursuit. Many victims are stalked by current or former intimate partners such as dating partners, spouses, or cohabiting partners. What was viewed initially as positive and/or romantic attention, may turn into the repeated unwanted attention, harassment, and contact that characterizes stalking. However, it’s important to remember that a stalker can also be an acquaintance or someone you do not know.