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How to help a friend or loved one

The following are tips on how to help a friend or loved one who has experienced sexual violence:

  • Don't be judgmental - Believe in your friend; do not blame them.
  • Let your friend make his or her own decisions - Encouraging your friend to make decisions will help them to gain some control.
  • Respect your friend's privacy - Do not share what happened to your friend with other people. Let them decide who will know.
  • Encourage your friend to get help - Provide your friend with information on where they can get help.
  • Be there - You can help your friend by offering your support and understanding.
  • Listen - This is a great way to show your support. Do not push your friend to talk, but when they are ready, be available with an open mind and heart.
  • Be patient - Healing takes time; just be there for your friend.
  • Take care of yourself - Find support for yourself. A counselor can help you process and understand your own feelings about your friend's experience.  (Also be sure to check out this information on secondary trauma.)

You can find an extensive list of resources for individuals who have experienced sexual violence here.  The First Responder Network is also available to help in third-party situations-- call or text 301-904-2015 any time, day or night.

This information was adapted from Help a Loved One on the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) website.