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Helping a loved one

There are many ways that you can help a friend or family member who has been a victim of rape or sexual violence:

  • Believe them.
  • Listen. Be there. Don’t be judgmental.
  • Be patient. Remember, it will take your loved one some time to deal with the crime.
  • Don’t investigate. It is not your job to connect the dots of their story.  Often survivors of trauma forget or misplace details. Asking clarifying questions can come off as skepticism even if there are good intentions behind them.
  • Help to empower your loved one. Rape and sexual violence are crimes that take away an individual’s power, it is important not to compound this experience by putting pressure on your loved one to do things that he or she is not ready to do yet.
  • If you are dealing with an issue involving your child, create a safe place by talking directly to them.
  • If you are the non-abusing parent in a case of incest, it is important to support your child and help them through this situation without blaming them. This is also true if you are not a parent but still an observer of incest.
  • Let your loved one know that professional help is available through the YWCA Crisis Line 542-1944 or 800-483-7858.
  • If your loved one is willing to seek medical attention or report the assault, offer to accompany him or her wherever s/he needs to go (hospital, police station, campus security, etc.) In Missoula, survivors seeking medical attention can call the YWCA Crisis line or  First Step Resource Center at (406) 329-5776.

It is also important to note that having a friend or family member who is raped or assaulted can be a very upsetting experience. For this reason it is also important that you take care of yourself. Even if your friend and family member isn’t ready to reach out for professional help, you can get support for yourself. You can also get ideas about ways to help your friend or family member through the recovery process.

Information in this post was originally authored and posted here.