For Family & Friends
It will be difficult for you if someone you love has been sexually assaulted or is living with violence in their lives. You will have your own feelings and experiences so you may find it hard to be a source of comfort and strength.
Some things you can do:
- Listen carefully to hear what the person is saying and feeling
- Respect the confidentiality of the individual who was assaulted
- Encourage, but do not force them to talk about anything related to the assaultIt may be difficult for them to make decision but you can help them access services and obtain information
- Respect their wishes if their choice is to talk to someone other than you
- Support whatever choices they makes, regardless of your own feelings
- Allow the individual to move at their own speed in coping and making sense of assault on their life
- It is important for you to be patient, understanding and non-judgemental at all times
- Recognize your own feelings and deal with them yourself - it will be a stressful time for you too
Thoughts for Family and Friends
When a crisis involves family or friends, there may be previous problems in the relationship to consider besides the immediate.
It is important to recognize your own feelings regarding the assault.
You may want to:
- Find someone you can talk to either a friend or professional
- Know that the best way you can help is just to listen
- Remember to take care of yourself - it is important that you stay healthy too
Some possible reactions of family and friends to the assault:
"The person who did this to you deserves to die. I'll do it myself."
Fear for their safety
"Will they be hurt or will this happen to them again?"
"How dare someone do this?"
"I can't bear the thought of it right now."
"What if the neighbours find out?"
"How can I really help?"
"If I wouldn't have let them go out." or "I could have stopped it if I was there."
Pushing for more information - "What else was done to you?"
"Stay home. Don't go out. I'll go with you from now on."
All of these are normal reactions- there is nothing "good" or "bad" about these feelings. It is important to recognize them and verbalize them in a way that is not hurtful or blaming of each other.