It’s scary when you hear one of your loved ones has experienced something as hard as sexual assault. You might not be able to think clearly or know what to say. You know that you want to help them in the best way you can, but you don’t know what that looks like. How can you show them you are there for them during such a difficult time?
Supporting a Sexual Assault Victim – The DON’Ts
- Do not immediately begin asking questions. Allow your loved one to give you as much or as little information as they want.
- Don’t second-guess their actions. We naturally want to find ways to erase what happened to our loved ones but bringing up the “if only” or “coulda-woulda-shoulda” scenarios may give the impression you are judging the victim.
- Do not force or convince them to make a report about the assault. This can sometimes be even more traumatizing or can reopen the wound by having to relive the event by telling it over.
- Do not blame them for what happened. Blaming the victim can lead your loved one to feeling even more shame than they already do for what happened to them.
Supporting a Sexual Assault Victim – The DOs
- The best thing you can do when someone shares this information with you is to remain calm and non-judgmental. It’s very difficult for someone who has experienced something so traumatic to share with others.
- Campuspeak encourages you to let your loved one know that the sexual assault was not their fault.
- Believe whatever they choose to tell you and respect their perspective.
- Ask them if they want to talk about it more or if they need some space.
- When they are done talking, make sure you thank them for sharing this information with you, and assure them that you are there for them if they need to talk in the future.