What a Friend Can Do

When you find out that someone has been sexually assaulted, your reaction can be important to her/his recovery. It may be difficult to understand how something like this could have happened, but it is important to believe and support her/him. Sometimes it is hard to know what to say or do to help. You might fear you’ll say something wrong.

1. Respect her/his right to privacy.Let her/him be in control of who she/he wants to tell. You should not repeat her/his story unless specifically asked to.

2. Let her/him know they are not to blame. Don’t place the responsibility for the assault on the vicitm.  Use positive phrases and open ended questions.

3. Put your feelings aside. It is difficult to listen to the hurt, anger and pain that someone close to you is having without feeling that way too. It is important that you talk about these feelings with someone else because it is difficult enough for the individual to deal with their feelings without having to deal with your feelings as well.

4. Do not confront the offender. The victim may fear for your safety as well as her own. Put your energy into supporting the victim.

5. Let her know you care and want to help. Listen carefully and respond to the person’s needs. Let the individual decide what they want from you. If they do not want to talk about the assault don’t assume that it is forgotten about or it is over. Ask the person how they feel once in awhile. It will take time to heal.

 

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