Supporting a survivor:

Finding out that someone you care about has been hurt can be heart-breaking. It is natural to be confused and feel angry. It is not an easy task and it is ok to feel lost and not to know what to do for the best. Remember, however horrible it is for you to hear what has happened – they are telling you because they trust you and that can only be a good thing.

Firstly, you do not have to do it all on your own. There are many crisis centres out there that will support survivors of rape and sexual assault – but whether or not your loved one wants to attend for themselves – many of them are also there to support friends and family members too.

The key thing is to listen. Listen to what they have to say and let them tell you as much or as little as they like, in their own time. Listen – believe them – and remember it is not their fault regardless of the circumstances. Recognise how brave they are to actually confront what has happened by telling you.

Like we said it is ok to feel angry – but not at them. Think about your reaction – and remember you were not the victim, they were – it is about them and not about you. This can be hard, especially if they are your partner – it is natural to feel jealousy or guilt – but like we said, they did not ask for this to happen to them and neither did you.

Indeed, another important point to remember is not to push them or try to take control of their life. Many people when they are trying to support someone, can take over and start making decisions and doing everything for them – this won’t help. It is essential that they regain control of their own life and body. Trying to force them to make a report – or forcing them to do anything will only reinforce the helplessness they felt. Involving the police and reporting the incident must be their decision.

Don’t judge them. Just listen.

 

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