This is important because they might be afraid you won’t believe them, or that you will blame them for what happened. They might even be afraid that you will get angry or try to hurt the person who did this to them, and then you might be arrested.
You can use this site to learn more about sexual assault and the options available to survivors.
LISTEN TO SURVIVOR
The most important thing is just to listen to the survivor, and offer support, even when not everything they say makes sense to you.
Remember that sexual assault can be very traumatic, and that might make it hard for a survivor to think clearly about what happened. Keep this in mind, because you may be confused by what they tell you, and the details they tell you may change.
WHAT TO SAY
Sometimes you may not know what to say, or you may be afraid that you will say the wrong thing.
The best messages are the simplest ones, like “I believe you,” “I’m sorry this happened,” and “How can I help?”
LET SURVIVORS DECIDE
Let the survivor decide how much to tell you. Ask how you can help, and let them know you are there for them.
For example, you can offer to go with them to the hospital, or the rape crisis center, or police department, if they want you to be there for them.
GET MORE INFORMATION
One good way to support a survivor is to encourage them to use this site or SEEK THEN SPEAK. That way they can get their own information and decide what they want to do.
The choice is theirs, and it’s okay if they choose not to do anything right now.
SURVIVORS CAN REPORT
SEEK THEN SPEAK also allows survivors to begin the process of reporting to police. However, this is only for the person who was sexually assaulted, not support people.
If you are not the survivor, you should not complete a report for police without their consent.
Even if you are the parent of a teen who was sexually assaulted, it is best to let them decide what they want to do. If a report is made, the police will need to talk with them, not just you, and forcing survivors to do this can be harmful. Sometimes this can be hard for loved ones, but even when we think we know what is best for them, survivors need to make their own decisions about what to do.
GET HELP FOR YOURSELF
Many victim advocacy centers also provide help for loved ones, as well as survivors of sexual assault.
You can find a victim advocacy center by calling RAINN, the national sexual assault help line, at 800-656-HOPE (4673).
You can also search for victim advocacy centers by state or zip code. Just go to the RAINN website.
Please take very good care of yourself, and come back to this site anytime you want to learn more.