The most popular explanation many people choose not to tell anyone about sexual assault is the anxiety that the hearer will not accept them. Friends, people rarely lie or stretch about sexual assault, in fact, survivors of sexual harassment are much more likely to downplay the struggle against them. If someone tells you, it is because they believe you and need to communicate with someone. So please do not back off.
Never Blame them
Another general hesitation in informing someone about a sexual assault is that the character will think it was somehow their fault. As always, I insist, it is not the victim’s fault if you view from any angle of the 360. NO ONE deserves to be sexually assaulted, no matter what. Sexual assault is always the responsibility of the assaulter, not the survivor. Therefore, from time to time, do let them grasp that it was not their error.
Give them Shelter
If feasible, I advise you to stay with the person at a convenient, reassuring spot.
Be There and Give Comfort
The survivor may need to speak a lot or at strange hours in the origin. Try to be there as much as you can and support the survivor to chat with others. Do not forget to praise the survivor for considering that he/she could talk to you. Trust me, it is not simple to tell someone about a sexual assault and you, as a listener should feel appreciative that the survivor feels you are a reliable person to talk to about the occurrence. But please as well, save the trust they have kept upon you.
Never try to hasten the healing method or “make it better.” Individuals do not heal at the same pace. Plus, healing does not occur overnight.
Validate the Survivor’s Feelings: their Anger, Pain and Fear
These are regular, healthy responses. They need to feel them, display them, and be listened to.
Express your Compassion
If you have reactions of indignity, compassion, pain for their pain, do bestow them. There is seemingly nothing more comforting than a genuine human response. However buddied, just make sure your feelings do not overwhelm theirs.
Resist seeing the Survivor as a Victim
Continue to see them as a mighty, courageous person who is enhancing their individual life and let them know of it. From time to time add these thoughts to strengthen them.
Accept the person’s Choice of what to do about the Assault
Do not be extremely guarding. Ask what is needed, assist the survivor record some options, then promote independent decision-making, even if you differ. It is very significant that the survivor make decisions and have them respected, as it can go a long way in helping them regain a feeling of direction in their lives.
Do not pull away from the friendship because it is too hard for you to handle: that will make the person feel like there is something wrong with them. You can always help them find other support people –do not try to do it alone.
Respect their Privacy
Do not tell anyone who does not have to know. Do not gossip about it with common friends. This is a sensitive case, so do not open up about it to random people. IT IS UP TO EACH PERSON WHO WAS ASSAULTED TO DECIDE WHO TO TELL AND WHEN. ONLY THEM
Try to be supportive without giving advice. Maybe, you might realise or might not, you really cannot know what is best for someone else. The survivor mostly only wants to be heard. In sexual assault, a survivor’s power over body and feelings has been temporarily taken away; the person needs support to take that strength back, beginning with making his or her own decisions. Help them with that.
Sometimes a person needs medical attention or other emergency help or support from other people besides friends. You can help your friend find the resources that are essential.
When someone you care about is sexually assaulted, it affects you in a very deep way. I have played both roles, so I empathise with you. I did not have anyone to help me out. But now, I am here for you. 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 confidence.
Educate yourself about Sexual Assault and the Healing Process
If you have a basic idea of what the survivor is going through, it will help you to be supportive. There are many good information sites on the internet. Do have talks with other survivors and supporters of survivors. Give them comfortable spaces and gain their trust. Many are willing to share what has helped them or can give you ideas on how to deal with a certain situation.