The most important thing to remember when assisting survivors of sexual assault respond differently and may or may not meet your expectation of how a person should be after an assault. There are a few things that will help your friend, and a few that may make the situation harder; keep the following ideas in mind when in this situation:
LISTEN: Let the survivor talk about the incident
Let them set the pace of the conversation
Acknowledge the other person’s feelings
Emphasize when you can that the assault was not their fault
Don’t JUDGE: Accept what the survivor tells you
Don’t ARGUE: Accept the fact that the assault/abuse happened
UNDERSTAND: It is not the survivor’s fault
DO NOT talk/ gossip about the incident
We all gossip and sometimes we indulge in it even when we don’t intend it. Sharing the information about the assault with your fellow classmates, roommate or partner might lead to re-victimizing the survivor and only add to his/her/sie’s pain.
By seeking out the resources on this website, you have already started gathering the tools to help your friend. Remember, the survivor has chosen you to tell you about an incident, and she/he/sie has done so because he/she/sie trusts you. Your support can have a positive impact on their experience and eventually, their healing process.