Support a victim of sexual abuse

If someone you care about has experienced sexual violence, you can keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Trust that they are making decisions that are right for them at this time.
  • Ask them what they need from you.
  • Let them know what you can offer and what other resources are available.
  • Listen to them and believe what they are saying and feeling.
  • Recognise that they may need time, space and energy to cope with their feelings.
  • Reassure them that their feelings—these may include pain, anger, fear and shame—are all natural responses.
  • Encourage them to seek help in whatever way they feel is right for them.
  • Seek help for yourself as well. You can also be affected by the attack and you cannot expect the victim to help you.
  • Ask the victim’s permission before you discuss their experience with someone else.
  • Remember that the only person who can be blamed for the attack is the person who committed it.

Try not to:

  • take charge
  • tell them what to do
  • seek details about the attack
  • blame them for the attack
  • smooth over the effects of the attack
  • focus on the offender
  • make excuses for the offender.