Support 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
- 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 about the assault over and over again.
- 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 she/he did the best she/he/ze 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?
- 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 her/him/ze.
- 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 she/he is not alone.