Can I Help?
Alert: computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely
clear. If you are in danger, please use a safer computer, call your local
hotline , and/or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
If you are at a safer computer, click
here to read more.
can I help a friend who has been sexually assaulted?
Those close to a survivor can help her/him through the healing process.
Know that sexual assault is traumatic and can cause a feeling of loss
of control and vulnerability for many survivors. They can react to these
strong emotions in many different ways.
blame where it belongs.
Emphasize that the rape was the attackers fault. Tell the survivor
that you believe her/him. Often, a survivors greatest fear is
that s/he will not be believed or supported by friends and family.
supportive and listen.
You arent expected to know the right answers. Often survivors
just want to be heard. But know your limits. Being a friend of a survivor
can be traumatic too, so seek help or rest when you need it.
the survivor's empowerment.
Survivors need to make their own decisions. It is important for them
to regain a sense of control over their lives after an assault. Give
them information, help them find options and do not try to make decisions
Here are some additional
ways you can provide ongoing support when someone you know has been sexually
In the weeks and months following an assault be available for that person.
Whether it is assisting the survivor in getting the help s/he desires,
day to day tasks, or just listening. A sympathetic ear can make a big
difference in the recovery process. After an assault, a victim may feel
out of control. Although you may be tempted to give advice or make decisions
for the survivor, it is important that the survivor begins regaining
control by making choices for her/his self. You can be helpful by discussing
options and providing necessary information. The most important things
for you to communicate are:
"I'm glad you're alive."
"It's not your fault."
"I'm sorry this happened."
"You did the best that you could."
Do not question the account of the assault or what the survivor did
to survive. Remember to remain non-judgemental even if the story is
hard to hear or you know the other person involved. Believe what you
the Fact that the Rape was not the Victim's Fault
If the victim feels guilty because s/he did not fight back, tell her/him
that fear often inhibits people and that cooperation does not mean consent.
the Survivor the Option to Call a Rape Crisis Center
WomenSafe has trained staff and volunteers who are available 24-hours
a day to help survivors. An advocate can accompany the survivor to the
hospital or if s/he chooses to report to the police. All services are
Respectful of Space
Following a sexual assault boundaries around personal space usually
change dramatically. The survivor may shrink at seemingly non-intrusive
physical contact or seem to need more physical space between her/his
personal space and other's. Ask permission before making any physical
contact and be respectful of the space the survivor may need.
you are Intimate with the Survivor
With the survivor's approval, use appropriate touching and language
to reestablish feelings of self-worth. Let your partner be in charge
of any sexual interaction. Talk openly but do not pressure the survivor.
Remember not to take rejections toward intimacy personally. It is not
About Rape Trauma Syndrome
A survivor's recovery period can last a long time, during which moods
and reactions may change radically from one day to the next. It will
help if you both understand the process survivors go through. If you
would like more information about the Rape Trauma Syndrome, please call
WomenSafe at 388-9180.
Support for Yourself
When someone you care about is sexually assaulted, you may suffer a
wide range of confusing and painful emotions, also. It can be especially
difficult if you know both the survivor and the perpetrator. It is normal
to feel angry, but confronting the person responsible is not going to
make the situation better. Share your feelings with a person on your
own and participate in activities that restore you. Support services
are also available to you. Keep in mind that your role is not to make
everything better. It is easy to feel like you need to do or say the
right thing, but just being with the survivor and not judging can help.