How can I help a friend who was abused as a child?

University of Leeds
2 min readFeb 23, 2024

‘My friend told me about some sexual abuse they experienced as a child. How can I help him and what services are available to him?’

Supporting someone who has experienced abuse, violence, harassment, discrimination or bullying of any kind can feel daunting. To support your friend, you don’t have to be an expert — there are some key-ways you can help, and we are here to help you every step of the way.

Childhood sexual abuse can leave emotional and psychological trauma that impacts on someone’s mental and physical health, as well as social well-being. It is something victim-survivors carry with them into adulthood.

Someone telling you about this part of their life is an important step in their journey. When someone shares an experience of sexual violence, or any other form of inappropriate behaviour, remember to respond with BLISS.

  • Believe them: knowing they are believed can be life-changing
  • Listen carefully: demonstrate active listening
  • In-control: follow their wishes to help them feel empowered
  • Support services: explore referrals to specialist services
  • Self-care: take time to look after yourself
Two people holding hands across a table.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on UnSplash

Speaking with a specialist service or a professional may support you in your response. You can always contact the Harassment and Misconduct team for guidance in giving support after a disclosure.

If your friend feels open to the idea, you can help them access support too. The Harassment and Misconduct team support all students and postgraduate researchers of any gender identity. The best way to get in touch with the Harassment and Misconduct team is to complete the disclosure form. You can also email the team at

There are also charities and organisations that provide tailored support to male victim-survivors, and those who have experienced childhood abuse:

Whether you’re supporting a friend or thinking about accessing support yourself, you are not alone. If you’ve experienced any kind of violence, abuse, bullying, harassment, sexual misconduct or discrimination, we’re here to help. Explore support options available in our community, including specialist support offered by the Harassment and Misconduct team here at Leeds.

Written by Charlotte Webster, Harassment and Misconduct team