Some time ago (four years ago), I was eating in the cafeteria with a friend (let's call him Arthur) and a group of friends (4 people).
Arthur wasn't a part of our regular friends group (even though we all appreciate him) and he had a love interest in me.
During the conversation, Arthur told us (and more specifically, me) about a time where he came home after a party and met his drunken neighbor (a woman his age) who kissed him while he didn't want to. She really wanted to have sex with him, but he was able to keep her away.
When he told us that, I was horrified. He was reporting a sexual assault and I was unable to determine if was supposed to laugh (even though I didn't find it funny) or if I was supposed to have a more serious reaction.
He wasn't saying this like a confession (the way you talk when you are alone with someone you trust and are talking about something serious), but more on the lighter side (even though it wasn't totally the case). I was at a loss about what reaction was expected of me (since I was the one he was directly addressing).
I don't really remember what my reaction was but I believe I joked it off, which is definitively not something I'm proud of.
Should a similar situation arise, how can I respond in a way that shows I take this seriously but without "killing the mood" or overdoing it? I don't want to be freaking out if the other person is already over what happened and I also don't want to embarrass the other person because of my reaction.
Notes and clarifications
- This happened a long time ago so I don't really remember, but he wasn't really laughing, even though when he started the anecdote, I thought it was going to be a joke.