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How to help a friend
What do you do when a friend comes to you and says that they have been sexually assaulted?
Listen: Be non-judgmental, open-minded, and understanding. Try not to minimize their feelings. Say “it sounds like it was really scary” instead of “it couldn’t have been that bad”.
Reassure them: Tell them it was not their fault and that 100% of the responsibility rests with the offender. Tell them you believe them. Convey a sense of hope. Tell them that your feelings for them have not changed as a result of hearing this.
Remain calm, attentive, and concerned: Let them be in control and resist the urge to over-protect. Don’t tell others without asking first.
Educate yourself: Accept that you can’t fix it. Learn about the issue so you can better understand their experience. Recognize that healing will have it own pace. Learn about resources (crisis lines, assault centres, counselors) for your friend.
Take care of yourself: Recognize and respect your own limits. Find a supportive person to talk to. Practice self-awareness.
For more information or to access support for yourself, click here for resources from the Victoria Women’s Sexual Assault Centre or phone the crisis line at (250) 383-3232.
When the one you love tells you they were assaulted...
If your boyfriend or girlfriend tells you that they were assaulted, you may feel unsure of how to help them. Here are some suggestions.
Listen: Avoid suggesting how they should feel. Expect a wide range of feelings. Don’t press for details.
Reassure them: Tell them that you believe their story. Offer a calm and accepting response. Do not deny, distrust, or minimize their experience. Reinforce that it is the offender’s fault.
Be aware of your own feelings: Accept that you can’t fix it. Recognize your feelings and know that support exists. Don’t act on feelings of anger or revenge. Take care of yourself.
Recognize that this relationship will have stresses and strains due to the long term impact of sexualized violence: Respond to sexual problems with love and patience. Talk openly about what is going on between the two of you.
For more information or to access support for yourself as a partner of a survivor of sexualized violence, click here for resources from the Victoria Women’s Sexual Assault Centre or phone the crisis line at (250) 383-3232.