Support a victim of sexual abuse
If you are supporting someone who has just been a victim of sexual violence, phone Triple Zero (000) and get them to the emergency department at your local hospital as soon as possible.
If someone you care about has experienced sexual violence, you can keep these guidelines in mind:
- Let them know where they can get help.
- Listen to them and believe them; many victims of sexual violence find it difficult to share their experiences and fear they won't be believed.
- Trust 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.
- Recognise they may need time, space and energy to cope with their feelings.
- Reassure them that their feelings—that might 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 incident and you can't expect the victim to help you with your own feelings.
- Ask the victim’s permission before you discuss their experience with someone else and honour their privacy.
- Remember that the only person who can be blamed for the incident is the person who committed it.
Try not to:
- take charge or tell them what to do
- seek details about the incident when they may not want to share
- blame them for the incident e.g. by saying they shouldn't have been drinking or asking them why they didn't fight back
- smooth over the effects of the incident or tell them it wasn't that bad
- focus on the offender
- make excuses for the offender e.g. by saying he was just jealous or couldn't control himself.