How to Support a Friend That's Been Sexually Assaulted
Did you know that 50% of Americans believe men getting away with sexual assault in the workplace is a major problem? Unfortunately, sexual violence and assault can happen to anyone, no matter their gender or their location.
However, since the rise of the #MeToo movement, survivors have felt more empowered to bring light to the problem and support other victims. While the growing support is comforting, many victims still feel isolated.
If your friend has been sexually assaulted, they may be in a similar state—searching for compassion and a trusting ear. But how do you properly support someone who's been sexually assaulted?
We're here to help you out. Keep reading below to learn how to support your friend through this difficult time.
Confirm Their Safety
While we often assume that sexual assault is committed at random, the truth is that 8 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone who already knows the victim. 33% of rape cases are committed by a current or former partner.
Because many victims have close ties to their attacker, it's important to first confirm that they aren't in any present danger. If there's a chance of repeated future assault in their own home, it's critical to offer or find a safe place for the victim to stay instead.
Offer to Find Resources
Be careful not to push your friend into contacting law enforcement or a lawyer. While it's fine to encourage it, you shouldn't insist your friend contact them immediately. It's important that they feel comfortable sharing their story and seeking justice in their own time.
However, if your friend wants to press charges or open a case, you can offer to find resources and contact information. Since your friend is in a vulnerable state, it can be overwhelming trying to find information on how to proceed after being sexually assaulted.
That's why it's helpful if you search for supportive law firms, such as the Thomas Law Offices, at https://www.thomaslawoffices.com/chicago/. A lawyer can fill you in on the differences between a sexual assault criminal case and a sexual assault civil case.
Investigate how your local law enforcement handles cases of sexual assault, too. You'll have a better chance of pressing charges if you have solid evidence, so consider suggesting scheduling a forensic exam for your friend as well.
Listen Without Judgment
The best thing you can do at this time is to listen to your friend without passing judgment. Your friend will be looking for a safe space to voice their thoughts and feelings about the situation.
Be mindful not to press for details on the actual sexual assault. It can be very traumatic for a survivor to recount their attack. If they feel the need to express it, allow them to on their own.
They may not be searching for advice at all, and that's okay. However, it's still important to remind your friend that it's not their fault. Avoid victim-blaming at all costs, and thank them for trusting you and having the courage to voice their story.
Be an Anchor for a Friend Who's Been Sexually Assaulted
It's heartbreaking to see a loved one in pain. If your friend has been sexually assaulted, your love and comfort are more important than ever. With the guide above, you'll be able to carefully navigate this process and support your friend as they work through it.
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