HOW FAMILY & FRIENDS CAN HELP
You have the most important role in helping the survivor of sexual assault in their recovery by giving them the reassurance, love, comfort and support they need.
The experience of rape can be extremely painful, and a survivor may require your understanding. The rape experience is a crisis that the survivor must work through at their own pace, and most survivors do work through this crisis and return to their normal routine. Most survivors have a great deal of inner strength, and your support can help a survivor regain their feelings of personal strength and self-worth.
If someone shares that they’ve been victimized you are already a trusted person. To show you are supportive:
What you say isn’t as important as your willingness to listen. It’s so hard to say just the right thing but the survivor most likely needs someone who can be strong enough to hear the words that describe their feelings.
One of the most hurtful things that can happen is when someone says, “No, that couldn’t have happened.” Many people can’t cope, so they just say it couldn’t happen. That’s extremely hard for a survivor to hear.
Show That You Care
Just be there.
Help Erase Feelings of Guilt
Be sure they understand that you know that the offender is to blame. No matter what they could or couldn’t do to get out of the situation, it’s not their fault.
Support Their Right to Be in Control
Lots of tough decisions need to be made…like whom to tell, when to tell, what to do. Let the survivor be in control of those decisions.
And One More Thought….
Some sexual assaults involve family members and can go on over a period of years. Often times the person who is being victimized is confused about what to do. They want the abuse to stop, but they don’t want to hurt the family member. As a helping person you may recognize that someone, with more power, needs to be involved in order to stop the abuse. Getting someone else involved may seem painful when you first consider it, but letting an abusive situation continue to get worse can be more painful.