What Should I Do If My Friend Was Sexually Assaulted?

What Should I Do If My Friend Was Sexually Assaulted?Sexual assault can traumatize people for months and years, leaving friends uncertain about how to respond. However, with the right resources you can help your loved one recover and live normally once again.

How to Identify If Someone Was Sexually Assaulted

It is impossible to know if someone was sexually assaulted unless she shares the information. However, according to campus assault resources at the University of California, certain signs indicate that something may be wrong with your friend. It may be time to reach out if someone suddenly displays the following symptoms:

  • Having nightmares or trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Appetite changes
  • Becoming irritable
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Developing fears about personal safety
  • Developing an exaggerated startle response—jumps at a small noise
  • Doesn’t want to be touched or express loving feelings

If these symptoms describe your friend, she may have survived sexual assault.

How to Discuss a Friend’s Sexual Assault

Sexual assault can take on many forms. A stranger may rape a woman or a trusted adult may inappropriately touch an adolescent boy. People will have a variety of feelings after assault, including shame and guilt, which keep them from getting help. When a friend or family member discusses a past sexual assault, the conversation can be difficult for both parties. One of the most important things to remember is to proceed cautiously and be supportive. Asking how to help is a good way to start.

According to Sexual Assault Support Services, there are several ways to offer help. During the discussion remain calm and consider the following options:

  • Avoid making negative comments about the perpetrator—in 85 percent of cases survivors know the perpetrator and may have mixed feelings about her
  • Let the person talk about what happened in his own terms without asking many questions
  • Express support and belief, because many people fear that others will doubt their words
  • When appropriate, remind the person that she is not to blame, because the perpetrator is at fault
  • Report any abuse involving a minor to local authorities

You can support your loved one if you take some careful steps.

Help Dealing with Trauma after Sexual Assault

There is no reason to suffer alone after sexual assault. If you want to find treatment for trauma, then call us for help. Our counselors want to help you or your loved one find professional care, so they are available 24 hours a day at a toll-free helpline. Call now to start the healing process today.