How Can You Help?

  • Remain calm. You might feel shock or rage, but expressing these emotions to the victim may cause the victim more trauma.
  • Encourage medical attention. Care is important because there may be internal injuries that are not noticeable, or the victim may have been exposed to sexually transmitted diseases. Additionally, a forensic exam can help provide evidence should the victim decide to prosecute.
  • Give the victim control. All control has been stripped from the victim during the assault. Allow the victim to make decisions about what steps to take next.
  • Maintain confidentiality. Let the victim decide who will know about the assault.
  • Let the victim express feelings. Listen without adding your opinions. If the victim wishes to remain silent, do not force a discussion. Say you will be there to listen always.
  • Believe the victim. Make it clear to the victim that you believe the assault happened and that the assault is the fault of the abuser, NOT the victim.
  • Encourage counseling. Give the victim the hotline number for the nearest sexual violence crisis center, but let the decision be the victim's.
  • Seek help for yourself. Don't ignore your own feelings, even though you may not be able to share all of them with the victim right now. Your local crisis center can provide counseling for you if you need to talk.