How to help someone you know who has been sexually assaulted
Believe them. Not being believed can be as damaging as the sexual assault itself.
Don’t blame them. Even if you would have behaved differently under the same circumstance. Every person who survives a sexual assault deserves respect.
Allow them to make their own decisions. Being a survivor of sexual assault means losing all power and control over what happens to your own body. Let the survivor decide whether or not to report the sexual assault to law enforcement and allow them to make their own choices about medical care.
Encourage them to get their physical health checked out. While it is important to let the survivor make the decision, make sure they understand that someone who has been sexually assaulted can get their physical health taken care of WITHOUT reporting to law enforcement (as long as the survivor is age 18 or older). However, it is important to respect the decisions the survivor makes. Learn more about medical care.
Remember it’s their story to tell. Let the survivor decide who to tell about the sexual assault.
Offer to go with them to law enforcement, hospital or sexual assault center. Let the survivor know that you will accompany them to any appointment they choose to make. Don’t pressure them to do something they do not want to do.
Listen to them. Let them talk about their feelings and their perception of the assault.
Don’t tell them to forget. Survivors of sexual assault can’t forget the assault but can learn to take back control of their own life with time.
Child survivors often know the perpetrator, 93% are known to the victim.
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