It can be hard to know what to say or do when you discover that a friend or loved one has been sexually assaulted. Our Sexual Assault program team has put together some tips to help you.
- Listen – without judgement or comment, allowing your friend to tell his/her story in their own way and time.
- Believe them – and tell them that you believe them. So often, victims of sexual assault fear that they won’t be believed and that makes it harder for them to tell anyone what happened to them.
- Remind them that, no matter the circumstances, they are in no way to blame for what happened to them. Tell them that it’s not their fault.
- Encourage them to get help – they can call Fort Bend Women’s Center 24-hour Crisis Hotline at 281-342-4357. We can accompany them to the hospital and be with them if they choose to report the incident. We can also provide counseling for them.
- Encourage them to seek medical treatment, even if they don’t feel they want to report the assault. They may change their mind later when it will be too late to collect evidence. There could be internal injuries, pregnancy or STDs. Go with them and/or encourage them to reach out to Fort Bend Women’s Center for support.
- Learn about the impact of sexual assault – sexual assault is traumatic. It can have serious long term effects on an individual’s emotional and psychological health.
- Talk to them about reporting their attack and support and respect whatever decision they make. If they want to report the assault to law enforcement, support them throughout the process.
- Be conscious of your own reaction – you may feel angry with your loved one’s attacker or guilty about what has happened. While these are both valid reactions, they can become distractions from helping your friend or loved one heal.
- Be there – recovery from sexual assault can be a long process. It may be challenging but you can play an important part in helping your friend heal and recover.