People who have experienced sexual violence, relationship violence, stalking, and sexual harassment often experience a range of emotions and reactions. As a friend, family member or partner, your help during this process is essential.
Remember that your primary role is to be supportive. You are not a counselor, a lawyer, or a doctor; your friend should turn to professionals for the best information on emotional, legal and medical issues.
Some Important Tips:
If a friend tells you they were assaulted or abused, the most important thing you can do is believe them. Don’t question them or their experience.
Even if you don’t know what to say or how to say it, you can always listen. Don’t ask for details or make them feel like you are investigating. Just validate their experience by saying empathetic statements like, “It was not your fault,” “I am sorry that happened” or “Thank you for telling me.”
Don’t ask questions that imply they did anything to deserve or provoke the assault or abuse.
Encourage Them to Seek Help
Ask them what kind of support they need and help them look into the resources available.
Don’t Pressure Decisions
Trust that they know what is best for them and offer to support them no matter what steps they want to take.
Help Them Recognize the Abuse
If you think your friend’s partner is abusive, give them specific examples of the behavior that concerns you. Give them information about relationship violence.
Get Help For Yourself
Supporting a friend who has had a traumatic experience can be difficult and confusing. The support resources listed on the Get Help page are also available for friends of victims/survivors.