Tips for Responding to Someone Who Tells You of A Sexual Assault

There is no timetable when it comes to dealing with sexual violence. Remember it is violence. It is ugly, it is the gift that keeps on giving, if others are unwilling to be of real help. Men who are close to and love women who have been assaulted by other men can and should provide the comforts below. Regardless of how much time has passed, the feeling was recent. I sincerely hope and pray that those who read this post will respond to sexual assault victims with compassion. I invite you to be a person who responds compassionately. Compassion acts.

Follow the steps below.

*** What is essential is for the victim to be believed, to be listened to
and to learn how to get further assistance. ***

Since it is always difficult and challenging to talk about sexual assault, the listener MUST be as non-judgmental and and as supportive as possible. If you, the listener, him or herself has also been abused, raped or assaulted – please hold off telling your own story. You need to listen to the victim first and foremost.

Visit RAINN. Online at ( Y en espanol a

RAINN is the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Netwtwork that has recommendations for assisting someone, a male, a female, off any age, no matter if the assault was recent or long ago.

Yes, I visited RAINN for an hour of online chat this week. It was helpful to chat with someone experienced helping people who have survived sexual assault.

It is free, anonymous, and can be private.

Say: “ I believe you. It took courage to tell me about this.”

It is extremely difficult for survivors to come forward and share their story. We can feel ashamed, be concerned we will not be believed, or worried we will be blamed.

*** Leave the “why” questions or investigations to the experts — Your job is to support the person. Be careful not to interpret calmness as a sign that the event did not occur — everyone responds to traumatic events differently.

The best thing you can do is to believe the person. Again: the best thing you can do is believe the person.

Say: “ It is NOT your fault. You did not do anything to deserve this.” Survivors may blame themselves, especially if they know the perpetrator personally. Remind the survivor, perhaps more than once, they are not to blame. I knew the criminal very well. He has not passed out of my life.

Say: “ You are not alone. I care about you and am here to listen or help in any way I can.” Let the person know you are there for them. Let the person know you are willing to listen to their story if they are comfortable sharing their story. Assess if
there are people in their life they feel comfortable talking to and remind them there are service providers who will be able to support them as they heal from their experience.

Healing is what my writing and recall is all about.
Healing. Healing. Healing. If the person, like me, does not get to discuss the assault with people she or he (RAINN was founded by a man.) he or she continues to relive the trauma, remains on high alert. I KNOW, for example I startle VIOLENTLY in dreams. If my husband wakes me to help, he must touch me gently, in an area that does not restrict my movements …. As in my violent dream I am fighting off the perpetrator. My husband must call my name quietly. I, for example, prefer during those times to be touched gently at the hip, not in the face, hands, or arms as was occurring in my nightmare – women who’ve been assaulted have a higher rate of lower arm fractures.

ALL this healing takes a tremendous amount of courage and energy. yet it must be done.

You can help!!! *** If you say, I will get back to you …. DO SO. ***

Say: “ I am sorry this happened. This should not have happened to you.”
Acknowledge the experience has affected their life. Phrases like “This must be really tough for you,” and “I’m so glad you are sharing this with me,” help to communicate empathy.

I prefer and recommend compassion over empathy, as empathy is so passive. It lets people off the hook. Instead do something … bring ready to eat healthy delicious food, flowers, a living plant, a small gift …
I see and witness people light up with small acts of compassion every day. I give people small acts of compassion myself, as often as my health allows. You will be at someone’s side when you give a reflection of your concern in an actual item.

Kindness is everything. Kindness and compassion.


There is no timetable when it comes to recovering from sexual violence.
If someone discloses the event to you, consider the following ways to show your
continued support.

Avoid judgement
It can be difficult to watch a survivor struggle with the effects of sexual assault. for an extended period of time. Avoid phrases suggesting the person is taking too long to recover. Avoid the phrases, “You’ve been acting like this for a while now.” or “ How much longer will you feel this way?”

Check in periodically
The event may have happened a long time ago, but this does not mean the pain has gone. Check in with the survivor to remind them you still care about their well-being and believe their story.

Know your resources
RAINN. Online at ( Y en espanol a
National Sexual Assault Hotline number 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE)

You are not alone.

Thank you kindly,
Gail Louise