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10 Ways To Comfort Someone Who Was Sexually Assaulted

Sexual assault is a crime no person should ever have to experience. It instills fear and a lack of trust in others. In addition, it is difficult to talk about and usually goes unreported. However, if a person you know does confide in you, here are a 10 ways to provide comfort:

1. Never victim blame

A common misconception is that the person “asked for it.” What the person was wearing or doing prior to the attack does not justify what happened to them. Never say words like “How did you let this happen?” or “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” Words like these take away from the fact that the person had a crime committed against them and reduces them as a person.

2. Say encouraging words like “I’m here for you” or “I believe you”

It is important that the person knows that they are not alone. Remind them often that you are there to listen to them when they feel ready to talk to about what happened. Let them know that you believe them. When people, women in particular, admit to sexual assault, they get questioned, especially if they do not talk about it right after it happened. Make sure the person knows that you believe them and that they do not have to prove it happened.

3. Don’t force them to tell you what happened

Telling you they were sexually assaulted is a congratulatory feat in itself, asking them to describe it to you is a different ballpark. Forcing them to relive a traumatic memory is never okay. If the person does not want to talk about it they should not have to.

4. Don’t hurt their attacker

Violence should never be an option. In fact, it takes autonomy away from the person who was sexually assaulted. The person who was sexually assaulted should be the one to decide what they want to do and hurting their attacker not only places you in a difficult situation but them as well.

5. Be patient

Talking about sexual assault is hard. One of the best gifts you can ever give to someone is your time.

6. Listen

Sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen. After something like that happens, it feels good to finally open up about it and feel heard. Never interrupt them when they are talking. When you feel it is appropriate, talk, but remember to keep it about them.

7. Remember that this is about them, not you

Usually when something happens to people we love we tend to want to take action. However, just because a person was sexually assaulted does not mean they are incapable of making their own decisions concerning what they want to do. An important thing you can do to comfort someone who was sexually assaulted is to support 100% whatever decision they make, whether you agree with it or not.

8. Tell them they have options

Approach this with caution. Yes, we want what is best for them and have every good intention but that person may not feel ready to do anything about it. However, knowing they have options about what to do or handle their sexual assault is comforting in itself. Some options available range from reporting the crime to doing nothing at all. As a side note, if they choose to do nothing we should not criticize them for it. We need to remember that this is about them, not us.

9. Don’t tell anyone about their business

This can go for a lot of things however, confiding in you about their sexual assault takes a great deal of trust. If you believe it is necessary (for example their attacker is in the same friend group as you and the person who was sexually assaulted) ask for permission first.

10. See them as a person, not a victim

The most important part in all of this is that they do not feel like any less of a person. Yes, they have experienced a horrible crime, but that should not be all that they are defined as. The worst thing a person can do is associate a person who was sexually assaulted with their trauma.

Hi, I'm Daniela. I'm a Sociology major with a minor in Criminology and Business Administration. I have been involved with Her Campus since my freshmen year, working in editorial, marketing, and social media. As president of Her Campus UIC, I am excited to see our chapter grow throughout my last year here.
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