It's a difficult situation. Your friend calls and tells you the unthinkable. He/she has been sexually assaulted. Your mind races as you try to process the news. You want to be supportive, but you don't really know what to do. Consider these "Dos" and "Don'ts" when offering support.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is just be a good listener. That's probably why your friend is leaning on you in the first place. If you are talking more than you are listening, you're likely not being a good listener.
Victims of sexual assault are sometimes scrutinized and even blamed for what happened to them. Keep in mind that no one asks to be sexually assaulted. The alleged offender is 100% responsible for his or her crime.
Sexual assault is a traumatic event. You don't need to know the "who, what, when, where, how and why" of the assault. Your friend will take the lead on whether he or she wants to "get into the details."
You may ask your friend about going to the ER or offer to take your friend there yourself. If your friend agrees, you may also contact the SARC or SAPR VA yourself.
People who are sexually assaulted are often overwhelmed with feelings, including fear, shock, helplessness, hopelessness, despair, anger, anxiety, panic, and even suicidal thoughts. Before you leave your friend, ask if you can call someone else to provide support, like a SARC or SAPR VA.
For more information about how to help a victim, visit the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response page or click here.
Bystander intervention is one of the most effective ways to prevent sexual assault.
If you are a victim of sexual assault, there are a number of things you may want to consider doing to keep yourself safe and healthy.
If you are a victim of sexual assault, just talking to another person can be helpful. Here are five confidential resources to get the process started.