Follow these tips to help a survivor of
- Talk, listen, respect, and be
emotionally available to the survivor.
- Accept what the survivor tells
- Accept the fact that the
- Understand that it is not the
- Listen without judgment. Suggest
options and actions (medical, psychological and other assistance),
but let the survivor decide what action to take.
- Let the survivor talk about the
incident, but don't force a discussion.
- Respect and understand that
temporarily the survivor may become distant from loved ones.
- Assure the survivor that you will
be available to provide support throughout the process of recovery.
- Give the survivor time to heal. Be
patient and understand that the healing process takes time.
- Take the initiative to maintain
communications with the survivor.
- Moderate your natural tendencies
to become overprotective.
- The survivor may need to seek
medical attention immediately. You can help by encouraging and
accompanying the survivor to obtain medical attention. If the
survivor wishes to seek criminal action, this should be done as soon
as possible after the incident.
Suggestions for the romantic partner of a
If your partner was sexually assaulted:
- Ask for permission before touching
or holding the survivor.
- Do not rush sexual contact. The
survivor needs to decide when it is right to have sexual contact,
and to pace the intensity of involvement.
- Accept the fact that the
survivor's renewal of sexual interest may occur at a slow pace.
- Discuss the subject of sex in a
non-sexual environment (i.e., not in bed).
Feelings you may experience
If you are helping a survivor, you may
experience certain feelings.
The survivor's dependence on you may
feel overwhelming. Recovery can be a long, slow process that may take
years. You may fear that the survivor will never be the same again.
You may feel guilty that you did not
prevent the assault/abuse. It is neither your fault, nor the
survivor's fault. The perpetrator committed the crime – not you.
Your closeness to the survivor's
experience may underline the vulnerability to violence that we are
all subject to. You may feel vulnerable because you realize that it
could happen to you.
- If you are a man, you may be
afraid you will be associated with the perpetrator.
- If you are a sexual partner, you
may be afraid to have sex with the survivor.
- It is important to realize that
your feelings are natural. Accept your feelings and try to
understand and to get help for yourself.
How to help yourself
- Talk with people you can trust.
You also need support from others.
- If you are male and the survivor
is female, do not take personally any hatred she feels toward men.
Her anger with the perpetrator may generalize into temporary anger
toward all men.
- Talk to a counselor or call a rape
crisis hotline. It is hard to witness someone in emotional pain.
Take care of yourself as you help the survivor.
- Educate yourself about rape and
- Moderate your stress levels
through activities with other friends and/or through “alone time.”
- Do not expect to be able to make
the survivor feel better all of the time.
- Do not blame yourself. The only
person who is at fault is the person who committed the crime.