Helping someone who has disclosed sexual assault/sexual abuse
One in five women in Australia over the age of 15 experience sexual assault. If you have had a friend, family member or work colleague disclose that they have been sexually assault, or sexually abused, the below tips may help you help them. For specific advise, please call us on 1800 010 120 anytime between 7.30am and 11.30pm, 7 days.
Knowing how to help your friend after a sexual assault, sexual violence or a sexual attack can be difficult. Here are some tips that offer a starting point to help you help your friend.
This video offers some ideas and options for supporting a friend who has been sexually assaulted. While the scenario focuses on a situation with a friend, the techniques apply equally to family members. Thank you to our friends at 1800RESPECT for creating this video.
Important things to consider
Every survivor is different and the time it takes them to feel ready to come forward can vary. One of the most important aspects in healing from the trauma of a sexual assault or sexual abuse is the support of those around them once they choose to disclose this. The below tips could be helpful when knowing how to approach a survivor:
- Let them know you believe what they have told you and valid their feelings.
- Reiterate that what has happened to them was not their fault, and they did not do anything to “provoke this”
- Emphasise that you will respect and support whatever decisions they choose to make going forward even though they may feel like they have had their power taken away from them as a result of the assault
- Understand that reporting to the Police may not be what they want to do right away. Traumatic events such as sexual assault/sexual violence affects everyone differently psychologically. You may like to read about the important things to consider with regards to time and reporting a sexual assault to the Police as the survivor may ask you if it matters when they report it.
- Letting them know that you are there for them when they want to talk, and that you also respect when they do not want to talk
Call the Sexual Assault Helpline
Counsellors are available from 7:30am until 11:30pm, 7 days.