When you find out that someone you care about has been sexually abused or assaulted, you may not be able to fully understand their pain. Regardless, you want to be there for them. It’s perfectly normal to feel like this, and in no way ford make you a bad friend or person. You may also find yourself not knowing exactly how to be there for them without overstepping, but without your patience and understanding, you can help them begin to recover.
1. Let them know that they are not alone.
It is important to make them feel loved and supported. Remind them that it’s absolutely not their fault and that you will always be there for them.
2. Be cautious about physical intimacy.
Someone who has been assaulted may be sensitive to others touching them. Ask for permission before holding or touching them. Try to express your affection verbally as much as possible.
3. Let them recount their experience at their own pace.
Many victims find it difficult to open up about what happened as the pain is still very raw and real in their minds. Don’t pressure them to talk about it. Instead, make sure that they know you are ready to listen whenever they are ready to come to you.
4. Encourage them to seek help, but don’t make them feel forced.
You can assist them in coming to a decision if they reach out to you, but don’t push them to report the incident if they feel uncomfortable doing so.
5. Be mindful and patient.
Victims can take a long time to heal from the trauma of rape or sexual assault if ever. They may experience flashbacks and nightmares, and some may even suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s important to give them help and support throughout the healing process.
6. Remember to take care of yourself.
Learning that a loved one went through such a devastating experience is not easy to process. Try and be as calm as possible, so they feel safe to process their emotions, but don’t hesitate to ask for help if you feel like the process has taken a negative toll on your mental health. You are not self-centered for letting it affect you. If anything, it just shows what a compassionate and caring friend you truly are.