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.