How to Help a Friend
If a friend or someone you know was sexually assaulted, she or
he may experience a wide range of emotional reactions. For some,
the emotional impact of sexual assault can be immediate and
short-term. For others, the effects can be long-lasting. Your
friend may find it helpful to talk about these feelings.
How You Can Support Your Friend
Listen. Your friend has chosen to speak with
you which demonstrates their respect and trust in you. It is
important to know that not all victims choose to speak about their
experiences immediately after a rape, it might be years later. Be a
good listener, act empathetically, but let your friend talk. Do not
push for details.
Believe her or him. Survivors need to validate
their experience. Be sure your friend knows that you support her or
Don't blame the survivor. Sexual assault is an
act of domination and humiliation; it is used to victimize a
person. No one deserves to be raped. Survivors often blame
themselves, it may help if you reinforce that the assault was not
Allow the survivor to control the situation.
Let your friend determine the pace of healing. Help your friend
understand the options available, and encourage your friend to keep
her or his options open. Provide a listening ear and support in the
situation, however be cautious not to take control. Act as a
facilitator for whatever decisions that they choose to take.
Encourage the survivor to get medical attention as soon
as possible. Your friend can receive medical attention
from a private doctor, clinic, or hospital emergency room. Seeking
medical attention as soon as possible will allow the survivor to
have options for their health and more control if they choose to
proceed with legal action against the perpetrator. Do not shower or
change clothes, but travel to the hospital as soon as possible so
that the proper steps can be taken to ensure the health and safety
of the survivor.
Don't be afraid to ask for outside help. Your
friend may need medical attention or counseling. Offer to help your
friend with access to a victim advocate, Counseling Services or other
support either on campus or within the community. Regardless of how
much time has passed since the assault, the survivor can receive
counseling and referrals from Counseling Services.
How You Can Take Care of Yourself
Understand your own feelings yet, attempt to control
your own emotions. You may also feel confused, hurt, angry
or frightened. Such feelings are normal. Please keep in mind your
reaction to the situation as well; do not attempt to approach the
perpetrator on your own. Do not try to retaliate against the
perpetrator either. It is important that you act in a way that is
respectful of the survivor's wishes.
Don't be afraid to ask for outside help. Find
someone other than the survivor to talk with about your feelings.
Speaking with someone in Counseling
Services or another individual will assist you in managing your
own emotions. Counseling is available for you in Counseling
Services, located in the Health and Recreation Complex.
Know and respect your own limits. There is only
so much you can do to help your friend. You can provide support,
compassion and companionship when your friend wants it, but try not
to make commitments that you can't fulfill.
Remember that it was not your fault. You may
feel guilty, thinking that somehow you could have prevented your
friend's sexual assault. Don't forget that sexual assault is a
violent crime and you are not responsible for someone else's
Realize that coping with sexual assault is a long-term
process. The impact of rape can take months or years to
surface, it does not just disappear with time. Make sure to give
yourself and your friend ample time to heal. Be patient with one