If someone you care about is sexually assaulted, you may feel
angry, confused and helpless. There are several things you can
do to help in the healing process and provide the support
your loved one needs.
How to help
- Believe the victim/survivor unconditionally. Accept what
you hear without judgment.
- Reinforce to the victim/survivor
that it is not their fault. Sexual assault is NEVER the victim/survivor’s
fault. It is important not to ask “why” questions,
such as “Why
were you in that area at that time?” that suggest that
they are to blame for the assault.
- Understand that you cannot control how the victim/survivor feels or “fix” the problem. Everyone reacts differently to sexual assault and heals at their own pace. It is important that you not assume you know how they are feeling-almost any reaction is possible and completely normal.
- Be a good listener and be patient. Let the victim/survivor
know you are there for them when they are ready to talk. When
and if the victim/survivor does want to talk about the assault, do
not push for information. Let them tell you what they are comfortable
sharing in their own time.
- Help the victim/survivor regain a sense of control
over their life. During a sexual assault, power is taken away
from the victim/survivor. Support decisions and choices the
victim/survivor makes without passing judgment. Try not to
tell the victim/survivor what to do; instead assist by presenting
options and resources for them to make the decision that is
right for them.
- Respect the victim/survivor’s need for privacy.
If the victim/survivor needs to be alone, respect that decision.
- Do not suggest that the victim/survivor “move on” with
their life and forget about the rape. The victim/survivor needs
the opportunity to work through the trauma of the assault and
begin the healing process.
- Respect the victim/survivor’s right to decide
whether or not to report the assault to the police.
- Remember to take care of yourself-seek support if you
need it. You will be better able to support the victim/survivor.