The first step to helping a friend or someone that has been sexually assaulted is to believe them, listen carefully to them and provide support. Your friend has taken an important step in seeking help and your response to their disclosure may determine the next step for your friend.
Although there is no universal reaction to being sexually assaulted, many victims feel guilty, often blaming themselves instead of the perpetrator. Victims sometimes feel they could or should have done something differently that would have prevented the assault. Other common feelings include fear, embarrassment and confusion. It is important that as a friend, you understand that a sexual assault is something which they had no control over happening to them. Simply telling your friend that is was not their fault can help to alleviate some of the confusion and overwhelming emotions they may be experiencing. These feelings, along with denial may be why it takes days, weeks, months or years for the victim to tell anyone.
What a Friend May Be Feeling If A Sexual Assault is Disclosed
For the person who is close to a victim of sexual assault, this can be a very difficult experience. You may be having some of the same feelings as the victim. Guilt, anger, helplessness, and confusion are common feelings. Do not be afraid to get help for yourself as well as the victim by setting up an appointment at the Counseling Center.