How to help a friend who has been sexually assaulted
- Listen to what your friend tells you. Sometimes assault victims need to talk about the attack. Don’t interrogate her or him.
- Don’t blame your friend for her or his decisions.
- Allow your friend the freedom to choose when, where and how to talk about her or his experience.
- Be sensitive. Understand that she or he is in distress, and will be dealing with a wide array of strong, and sometimes overwhelming, feelings.
- Respect your friend’s confidentiality and don’t share information about his or her experience with other friends.
- Be patient. Recovery from sexual assault can be slow. Your friend sets the pace.
- Realize that you may also have strong feelings about the trauma. If needed, seek support for yourself. The USC Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention and Services (RSVP) offers one-on-one counseling and discussion groups for friends.
- Remember that whatever your friend did to survive an attack was exactly what he or she needed to do. Your friend did not cause the attack and is not at fault.
- Encourage your friend to contact the Sexual Assault Resource Center within RSVP. If possible, walk her over to RSVP in Engemann 356, or help her to call them. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. It’s never too late to seek emotional support.