How To Help a Friend Who Is a Victim of Sexual Assault

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When someone has been sexually assaulted, there is a tremendous feeling of vulnerability and loss of control over one’s body and very existence. Survivors need to regain a sense of control. Allow the survivor to make her (his) own decisions. Your may help by offering information and options.

Assure the survivor that you believe in her (him). Remind the survivor that the assault was not her (his) fault. Do not blame or suggest blame. Do not judge or criticize. Avoid showing strong emotion of any kind.

Sometimes survival requires involuntary cooperation. Recognize that whatever choice of action was used to get through the ordeal was obviously effective since the victim survived. Be supportive.

Allow the victim space and time to talk or not to talk. It is common for sexual assault survivors to choose to protect those to whom they are close by not sharing details.

Much of the survivor’s recovery may depend on your reactions and responses. Call the Sexual Violence Program Hotline for support for yourself.