If someone you know tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted, it can be overwhelming. You may have feelings of your own to deal with and might not think there’s much you can do to help.
However, there is a lot you can do:
- Listen. Hear what they have to say and try not to interrupt.
- Believe them. They are sharing very personal information with you. When a person trusts in your belief, it helps them to feel more secure in the information they are sharing. This can also assist them to disclose to police or support their engagement in counselling services.
- Validate. Tell them that what they’re feeling is ok.
- No blame. In our society it’s common for victims to be blamed for the assault. Try to avoid questions like “why did you go there?”, “why did you wear that?” and “why did you drink that much?” because they might make your friend think that they are responsible for what happened. Victims are never to blame for their experience of sexual assault.
- Ask. If you’re not sure, ask them what sort of help they’d like from you.
- Permission. This person trusts you and so if you think that someone else needs to know, tell them first.
- Get help. Encourage them to talk to someone for more support, such as a counsellor at the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre.
If you need to talk to someone yourself, you can call the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre on (02) 6247 2525.