WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
Family and friends play an important role in the support process for a sexual assault victim. How you react to the victim will affect how she may react. For example, if you treat the victim as fragile, then he or she may not feel competent or capable of handling emotions. Try to treat the victim as you always have; be normal. There are some general guidelines you can follow to help support a family member or friend that has been a victim of sexual assault.
- Don’t bombard the victim with questions, especially ‘why.’ This places the blame on the victim, not on the perpetrator where the blame belongs.
- Don’t pressure the victim to talk. If she wants to talk, let her come to you.
- Listen to her without making judgments.
- Do not demand or pressure the victim to decide when to resume physical intimacy.
- If the victim is receptive, do not avoid any display of intimacy such as hugs or kisses because it could make the victim feel like she is tarnished or dirty as a result of the assault.
- Do not tell the victim how you think she should feel.
- Encourage her to make personal choices because it help take back some of the power she lost as a result of the assault.
- More importantly, be patient and compassionate.
These are just some general guidelines to follow to help your friend or loved one adjust to being a victim of sexual assault. You, too, may feel hurt or confused about what happened. As a parent, spouse, friend, or relative, you may feel guilty as though you could have prevented the assault. If you need support, or have concerns about your friend or loved one, don’t hesitate to call. We are also here to help you whenever you need it.