help a rape survivor

If a friend or fellow soldier/shipmate comes to you after they have been raped or assaulted, you play a vital role in getting them the help they need. Sexual assault and rape are very traumatic for the victim. The time following the incident is often accompanied by a wide range of emotions. A survivor may be openly upset, angry, or hysterical. Although she may appear very calm or numb. Sexual assault impacts those who are closest to the victim. Understanding what to expect and the range of responses to sexual assault can help prepare you to be as supportive and helpful as possible. The following is a list of things you can do to be helpful:

  • Believe what your friend tells you
  • Provide support
  • Listen actively, be prepared to listen for a long time
  • Ask how you can be helpful
  • Do not judge
  • Be patient, non- threatening, and not overly protective
  • Let them know they are not to blame for the assault
  • Encourage “a resident or campus friend” to go to their RA, RD, Public Safety, or Health Center
  • Encourage “a commuter friend” to go to public safety, or the health center
  • Encourage them to seek medical attention and counseling services
  • Let them make their own decisions and choices
  • Let them know about resources on campus and in the community
  • Offer to accompany them to seek resources
  • Be aware of, but put aside your own feelings
  • Be aware of your own limits, get support for yourself
  • Keep what they tell you private, don’t go telling every other person what your friend told you, except in the case of imminent harm to your friend and others

When speaking to a friend about the rape or sexual assault try the following questions:

Do Ask

  • “Can you tell me what happened?”
  • “Do you feel safe?”
  • “How are you feeling?”
  • “What do you feel you want to do now?”

Do Not Ask

  • “Why didn’t you just leave?”
  • “Did you scream?”
  • “Why did you go to the room alone?”
  • “Were you drunk?”