Talking to a friend after he or she has experienced a sexual assault can be difficult and uncomfortable for both of you. Remain calm and non-judgmental, creating an environment where your friend feels safe.
What to Say
You are on my mind. How are you?
How can I help you?
Can I do anything to make things better for you right now?
I’m glad you told me.
It just happened to you. You didn’t cause it, and you didn’t deserve it.
I’ll support you no matter what you decide to do.
What would you like to do next?
I’m so glad you are here with me. It will take time, but I am here for you.
What Not to Say.
It could have been worse.
Don’t think about it.
Life goes on.
You’ve got to move on with your life.
You need to…
What did you do to cause it?
It doesn’t sound like it was a bad rape. (no visible bruises)
He didn’t actually rape you. (attempted rape
If this were true, you would have reported it.
You knew/were married to him. It can’t be rape.
Can we talk about something else? This is disgusting.
You are doing this for attention.
He would never do that!
Why didn’t you scream or fight?
How to Help Your Friend
Believe your friend, and let him or her know you believe.
Remain calm and listen without interrupting. Encourage your friend to take whatever time is necessary.
Respect the language your friend uses to identify what’s happened.
Validate your friend’s experience or reactions.
Remind your friend that he or she is not at fault.
Help your friend identify other safe people in his or her existing support system.
Encourage your friend to seek medical attention and counseling. Provide information about those services.
Allow your friend to make his or her own decisions.