Helping a friend that has been sexually assaulted

The Catalysts for Change

“If your friend was sexually assaulted, she or he may experience the following:

  • Shock
  • Disbelief
  • Anger
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Disturbances in eating and sleeping habits
  • Denial
  • Fear
  • Helplessness
  • Embarrassment
  • Depression
  • Inability to concentrate or relax
  • Resurfacing memories of past abuse

For some, the emotional impact of sexual assault can be immediate and short term. For others the effects can be long lasting. Your friend may find it helpful to talk to a counselor trained to understand and assist survivors of sexual assault.

What you can do:

Believe unconditionally.  People rarely lie about being sexually assaulted. Be sure your friend knows how much you support her or him.

Let the survivor control the situation.  Let your friend determine the pace of healing. Help your friend understand the options available, and encourage your friend to keep her or his options open. Most importantly, allow your friend to make her or his own…

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