Helping a Friend with Sexual Violence
Remember that sexual assault and rape are violent crimes. They are hostile attacks that attempt to hurt, dominate, and humiliate the victim. Your friend has been through an emotionally painful experience. The trauma of a sexual assault does not go away quickly.
Be patient and understanding.
Your friend may act differently after the assault.
Some of your friend’s reactions may be hard to watch, but your “being there” for your friend can help a lot.
What You Can Do to Help
If the assault occurred recently---
Make sure s/he is safe.
Offer to stay with her/him or call someone s/he wants to stay with.
Help her/him get the medical attention s/he needs.
Offer to call for rape advocate services. This will allow an objective, knowledgeable, supportive person to assist her/him in dealing with the immediate issues of the trauma.
If the assault occurred some time ago ---
Encourage your friend to make her/his own decisions and choices. This is one way for a sexual assault victim to regain a sense of personal power and control.
Offer to accompany her/him to get help, such as medical care, an evidentiary examination, counseling, or other services.