A Guide for Friends & Family
Sexual assault is an act of violence that affects not only the primary victim, but also anyone close to that person.
- Sexual assault can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, income, appearance, or lifestyle.
- No matter what the circumstances, sexual assault is never the victim’s fault.
- The sexual assault happened to your loved one, not you.
- Healing takes time. Since you love and care about this person, you may want everything back to normal quickly. Many victims find this isn’t possible. However, it is important that you be patient and supportive.
- Since sexual abuse is an abuse of power, it leaves the victim struggling to regain control.
Your friend or loved one has been through a really tough experience. Here are a few possible reactions they might have to the sexual assault.
- Fear: Of the offender returning or of the same thing happening again.
- Helplessness: Difficulty in making decisions, feeling powerless.
- Guilt: Feeling responsible for the assault.
- Shame/Embarrassment: May fear other’s blame.
- Numbness: Lack of apparent emotional reaction.
- Difficulty sleeping and eating.
Your friend or loved one may experience a rapid change of emotions following the assault. This can be confusing to you as well. Here are a few feelings you may be experiencing.
- Misplaced anger at yourself or your friend or loved one
- Concern about the victim’s safety and well-being
Any of these can be normal reactions to sexual assault. Be sure to take care of your own needs, so you can better support your friend or loved one.