Supporting a Friend or Family Member
How to Start the Conversation
Seek out a private, quiet place to begin talking. Allow plenty of time to talk at length. Start by saying the following:
- "It is not your fault."
- "I am here to listen.
- "I am sorry you are experiencing this."
- "You don't deserve this."
During the Conversation
What do you do?
- Listen. Your friend may need to tell you their story more than once.
- Believe. Survivors need to know that you believe what happened. It is rare that people make up stories about sexual assault.
- Validate feelings. Acknowledge your friend's sadness, anger, fear, or confusion.
- Assure. Tell your friend that they did the best they could do to survive the situation and that no one deserves to be sexually assaulted.
- Don't say: "When are you going to get over this?"
- Don't say: "Why don't you just leave your partner/girlfriend/boyfriend?"
- Don't blame or judge your friend.
Now that you know, what can you do?
Support and Education
- Avoid treating your friend like a helpless victim.
- Healing takes time. Respect your friend's pace and be patient.
- Accept your friend's decision whether to report the assault and/or to cooperate with the prosecution.
- Help your friend with plans, but don't make decisions for them.
- Respect your friend's right to tell or not tell others about the assault or abuse.
- Only give advice if and when your friend asks for it.
- Remind your friend that sexual assault and physical domestic violence are crimes and are never the victim's fault.
- Remind your friend that they are not alone.