If a friend is sexually assaulted, here’s how you can help…

Keep telling her/him “It’s not your fault.”

Never blame your friend. Don’t let her/him blame her/himself. Rape is never the victim’s fault even if she/he did not yell for help, fight back or was drinking.

Tell her/him that her/his survival is all that really matters.

It will be reassuring to her/him to hear that what is most important is that she/he is alive and got through the experience as best as she/he could. Questions like, “Why did you go there alone?” are blaming, not reassuring.

Tell her/him that you believe she/he was raped.

If you communicate that you believe her/him, you will be helping your friend a great deal.

Tell her/him you will support her/him by listening.

Be supportive by listening, not judging. Be supportive by listening, not prying. Let her/him take her/his time to share the details. Let her/him share only what she/he is able to.

Ask her/him what she/he needs from you instead of telling her/him how to handle her/himself.

Let her/him be in control of who knows about the assault and how she/he manages her/his life. This will help her/him feel she/he is regaining the control she/he lost by being victimized.

Tell her/him it’s OK to talk about her/his feelings for as long as they need.

It’s normal to feel angry, afraid, anxious and depressed. If her/his feelings intensify and seem to continue to overwhelm her/him and she/he is not getting help, support her/him in getting help.

*From “Adolescent Sexual Assault & Harassment Prevention Curriculum” by Majorie Fink, CSW