Helping someone come to terms with something as traumatic as a rape or sexual assault is not easy. Many people worry that they may say the wrong thing or make things worse. Remember that you do not have to be an expert, just be prepared to listen. Be aware of the impact on you. Many rape counselling services also support the family and friends of victims so don’t be afraid to ask for help. We can put you in touch with these services if you need them. Below are some simple do's and don’ts.
DO be patient - It’s very hard to talk about these things so give your friend or family member as much time as they need.
DON’T tell them to forget about it or put it behind them
DO allow them to be in charge – It can be tempting to try to arrange everything as a way of helping but many victims have been made to feel powerless and taking control of the situation may make this feeling worse.
DON’T ask them why they didn’t fight back – A rape or sexual assault is a terrifying experience and many victims freeze. Very frequently threats are used to subdue victims and not fighting back can seem like the safest option.
DO believe them – Sometimes its tempting to disbelieve an account of rape or sexual assault – particularly if you know the perpetrator. It’s very rare for people to make up a story of sexual assault and its very important for victims to be believed.
DON’T blame them – It’s not their fault. Whatever they have done, drunk, worn or said no one deserves to be assaulted or raped. The blame lies only with the abuser.