Being accused of any violation of the Code of Student Conduct is difficult. In sexual violence cases, it can be particularly hard to process. Just as friends might turn to you if they are a victim of sexual violence, a friend might confide in you that they have been accused of committing sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, or relationship violence. Knowing how to support an accused individual—or, respondent—can be hard.
If someone accused of sexual violence turns to you for help, here are some ways you can provide support:
- Listen actively and without judgment. Listening isn’t condoning what may or may not have happened. You don’t need to take sides or even express your opinion at all. Just listen.
- Learn more about sexual violence and the conduct process to help sort out your feelings as well as better support your friend.
- Direct your friend to resources on campus, like Case Management & Victim Support Services and the Counseling Center where they can speak about what they are experiencing and process their feelings. They might feel scared and overwhelmed about the conduct process, so encouraging them to speak to the Title IX Coordinator or the Office of Student Conduct to learn more about their rights and explain the investigation and adjudication processes can help manage their concerns.
As you provide support to your friend, remember that you can best take care of others when you take care of yourself. Supporting someone who is dealing with sexual assault allegations can be confusing and emotionally fraught, so don't hesitate to reach out to those same support resources to get the help you need, too.
A Note on Retaliation
We all can feel deep loyalty to our friends; just like with reported victims of sexual violence, there can be a need to "fix" what your friend is experiencing or "make it go away." You might want to speak to the reporting student or take some action to communicate your support for the respondent. It is important for you to remember that Tulane prohibits retaliation against individuals (including the respondent) involved in the reporting, investigation, and adjudication of sexual violence. Also know that your friend might have a "No Contact Order" with the reporting student, so your actions need to respect that order's directives.
If you have any questions or concerns about what constitutes retaliation or about No Contact Orders, contact the Office of Student Conduct.