How to Help a Friend

What to Say

When a friend discloses an assault, you may not know how to respond. It’s important to be supportive and accepting. The following phrases can be helpful to a survivor:

I believe you.
I’m sorry this happened to you.
It’s not your fault.
Thank you for telling me.

Common Reactions

There is no right way for a survivor of sexual assault to respond. After a sexual assault, a survivor may feel shock, embarrassment, disgust, numbness, or anger. Some survivors may have openly emotional reactions, such as crying or anxiety attacks. Others may appear to be calm or unemotional. It is also common for survivors to feel disoriented, confused, or unable to recall the details of the assault.

Support Their Choices

You can help your friend locate different community resources and explore options. Follow the survivor’s lead and respect their choices. Do not pressure them into decisions they are uncomfortable with. Some people do not want to visit the hospital or talk to the police and that’s okay. It is crucial that a survivor is given the power to control their own recovery