http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/photoset.gne?set=72157623594493070&nsid=46743070@N06

thecenternow

Logo

How to Help a Loved One After a Sexual Assault

As a family member or friend of a sexual assault victim, it can help to know the facts about sexual assault, what reactions to expect from the victim and yourself and, most of all, how you can help.

Survivors do have varied reactions after the assault.  One survivor may react very emotionally; another may react with extreme calm.  You can not completely understand the victim’s feelings, even if you have been a victim of sexual assault in the past.  Each person experiences this traumatic event with uniqueness.  However, by providing support at this critical time, you can make a difference in their recovery.  The victim needs empathy, understanding, and if they choose to talk, someone who listens actively and non-judgmentally.  You may be asking yourself, “What can I do?”  You can provide information and needed support.  You can call The Center and seek counseling for you to help cope with your feelings and reactions as related to the assault.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

It is normal for you to feel range of emotions such as shock and anger, but it is not appropriate expressing these emotions to the victim at this time.  Focus on the victim’s needs at this time.  Share your feelings with someone else, with whom you feel safe and can trust.

Listen actively, empathetically and non-judgementally.  If the victim chooses to be silent, do not force discussion.  Say you are available to listen when she is ready.  Let her tell you what happened at her own pace.  Do not drill for information or details.  Ask what you can do to help.  Make it clear to the victim that you believe her and that responsibility for the assault lies with the person who raped her.

Let the person know that you care about her and how she is feeling.  Make time to help her and spend time with her.  Help her find other supportive individuals.  Express understanding and give assistance in finding counseling and/or attention.

Ask before you touch and abide by the wishes of the victim.  Allow the victim to make decisions, such as who to tell and what steps to take next.  Provide the victim with information and options, but support the victim in making her own decisions.

Rape has not only affected your loved one, it has affected you.  Try not to ignore your feelings.  You are going through a crisis of your own at this time.  Share your feelings with someone you trust or seek counseling for yourself.  By taking care of yourself, you will be able to support your loved one.