If someone close to you has experienced sexual violence, you might be feeling overwhelmed and wondering how best to support them. You are not to blame for what happened to your loved one. You, too, deserve support to process your feelings from hearing about this trauma, and you can access this through the Rosey Project.
We have some information you can look at about what sexual violence is and how it impacts survivors.
There are some really simple things that you can do to help the survivor in your life.
Believe them when they tell you what has happened to them. This can be tough if you also have a relationship with the person who hurt them, and if you need some support processing this you can talk to us.
Try not to ask lots of questions and focus instead on what your loved one wants to tell you. Support your loved one to make the decisions that are right for them. Someone you care about has been harmed, so it is understandable to want to take over and phone the police or try to punish the perpetrator. However, the survivors tell us that the most important thing for them is that they have some control over who knows about what happened and what is done about it.
Don’t judge the way that they are dealing with what has happened. There is no normal way to respond to sexual violence: they might be really upset, or quite numb. Give time and space to listen to your friend or family member to help them respond in a way that feels natural for them. Never blame your friend for what happened to them: remember, the rapist is always to blame for what they did. No one every asks to be raped or sexually assaulted.
Ask what they need from you. Don’t jump in and take control of what happens next. They might want to talk with you about how they are feeling, but they also might want to be distracted from it.
If your partner has experienced sexual violence, you might have some questions about how to be sensitive and considerate in your sexual relationship. The most important thing is to talk to your partner! Ask what they need from you, and understand that their needs may change over time. Here is a podcast that might provide some helpful insight, but there are many other resources online you can take a look at.