Supporting someone you know

If you are supporting someone who has been raped or sexually assaulted it can be painful and confusing at times. It is often difficult to know how to act or what to say.

It can take a long time for a victim to be able to talk about what has happened. It is important that victims are believed and listened to, regardless of when the abuse happened.
You can make it easier by:

  • Believing – take time to listen without judging, criticising or questioning.
  • Being patient – don’t force the victim to talk.
  • Reassuring -  no one has the right to rape or abuse in any circumstance.
  • Understanding- victims can experience a range of different reactions and emotions. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way for a victim to react.
  • Empowering - experiencing sexual violence can make victims feel they have no control over what is happening. Regaining a sense of control is an important part of recovery.

Taking care of yourself

It can be easy to forget that you need to look after yourself too. For people who are close to the victim there can be a range of emotions for you to deal with too – these can range from shock to anger.

Here are some points to think about:

  • Remember the victim has trusted you enough to share this information with you
  • You are not a miracle worker – provide information of support services that may help – but don’t  push for the victim to contact them
  • You may feel helpless or distressed at times but remember that just being there is important in itself.
  • Be gentle with yourself.
  • Remember that you may need support too so that you can continue to be supportive. It can be hard to see someone you care about in pain and distress. Being able to talk to someone in confidence can make a big difference.