How to Help Someone Who Has Been Sexually Assaulted
When someone tells you about their recent sexual assault, you may not know what to
do, what to say or how to respond. You may experience a range of feelings including
anger, fear, sadness and anxiety about how to best help them.
The following suggestions may help you to support the survivor:
- Let them know university resources are available:
If the survivor is a student, let them know that the CARE Advocate is available for confidential support and guidance. The CARE Advocate is a trained
professional who can connect you with psychological counseling, as well as explain
medical, academic and reporting options.
If the survivor is a UC faculty member, other academic appointee or staff employee,
the experienced, trained professionals in the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) can provide confidential support and connect survivors with available resources.
- Listen - Listening is one of the most important ways to help. Some survivors will open
up right away, while others may need more time. Often they just need someone to hear
their story. Let them talk, and simply listen without interrupting.
- Believe - Tell the survivor you believe them. When a survivor feels that you believe them,
you have already facilitated the healing process.
- Let them make choices - Try not to tell the survivor what to do. Be there to help get information and understand
options, but give the survivor the time and space to make their own decisions. You
can help by supporting their decisions, even if you may not agree with them.
- Be supportive - Show affection by speaking calmly and gently. If the survivor chooses to seek medical
attention or make a report, offer to accompany them to wherever they need to go (hospital,
police department, etc).
- Respect the survivor's privacy - Do not tell others about the survivor's assault or reveal any names or details
without the survivor's permission.
- Take care of yourself - Supporting a survivor may be a very emotional and challenging experience. Pay attention
to your needs - this could mean setting boundaries, spending time on activities you
enjoy, or talking to a friend or counselor if needed.