Sexual Assault Program
HOW CAN I HELP?
When someone you know is sexually assaulted, it can be a frightening and confusing time for them
and for you. There are some things you can do to help. Here are a few suggestions. Keep in
mind that there is not one "right" way to deal with sexual violence; each person has to make
their own decisions.
1. Believe them. The most common reason many people choose not to tell anyone about sexual abuse
is the fear that the person won't believe them. People rarely lie or exaggerate abuse; if someone tells you,
it's because they trust you and need someone to talk to.
2. Don't blame them. Another common fear in telling someone about sexual abuse is that
the person will think it was somehow their fault. NO ONE deserves to be sexually assaulted,
no matter what. Sexual assault is the fault of the abuser, not the victim.
3. Stay friends. Don't pull away from the friendship because it's too hard for you to
handle; that will make the person feel like there's something wrong with them. You can always
help them find other support people--don't try to do it alone.
4. Respect their privacy. Don't tell anyone that doesn't have to know. Don't gossip
about it with mutual friends. It is up to each person to decide who to tell about it and when.
5. Listen. Try to be supportive without giving advice. You really don't know what's
best for someone else. In sexual abuse, a person's power over their body and feelings has been
temporarily taken away from them; they need support to take that power back, beginning with
making their own decisions.
6. Get help. Sometimes a person needs medical attention or other emergency help or
support from people besides friends. Help your friend find the resources they need.
7. Help yourself. When someone you care about is sexually assaulted, it affects you in
a very deep way. You have your own needs and feelings; which are probably somewhat
different than your friend's. Find someone you can go to without violating your friend's
People can and do survive sexual assault. It is much better if they have support from people
they trust. You may be able to be that person for someone close to you. If you need
information, resources or support, call the Hands of Hope Resource Center or another rape crisis