If you are a support person for an adult who has suffered sexual abuse
Your friend has told you they have been sexually assaulted. You may be confused and upset for your friend and hearing about what happened to him/her may raise personal issues for yourself.
- Your friend trusts you and how you respond is very important.
- Your friend has shown bravery in telling you.
- Sexual assault is never the fault of the person who has been assaulted. It is always the responsibility of the perpetrator who did the assaulting.
You are not a sexual assault counsellor so you may feel at a loss as to what to say or do.
Victims of sexual assault experience a range of emotions and feelings and they often feel very alone, afraid and embarrassed. Some may feel depressed, anxious, or have difficulty eating. They may drink too much or become dependent on other substances to help them relax or forget about the assault.
Here are some practical and important ways in which you can help your friend:
- Listen to what you friend is saying. Let them tell you what has happened at their own pace.
- Try not to interrupt or ask lots of questions and don't worry if they stop talking for a while; silences are normal.
- What is being told to you is in confidence. It is not for you to share with others.
- Any police contact is always the decision of the victim/survivor.
- Believe what your friend is saying. People rarely make up stories about sexual assault.
- Ensure that the person has a safe place to stay.
- Offer to go to appointments with the person if practical.
- Ask what the person needs.
The effect on you
You may have any or all of these feelings: hurt, sadness, anger, confusion, guilt, fear, helplessness.
Any or all of these feelings are normal when someone you care about has been sexually assaulted.
Be aware of your limitations. You can contact SASS for advice and support- 6231 1817
If your friend is under 18 years of age, it is important that you encourage them to tell a trusted adult who can do something about it; perhaps a relative, a school counsellor or teacher, or SASS.