Helping someone who has disclosed sexual assault

 

When someone says they have been sexually assaulted, the first response is critical to their recovery and decisions about what to do next.

A response which is supportive, non-blaming and compassionate will help the person feel they have chosen the right person to speak with.

A response which is non-believing, seeks to give excuses to the perpetrator, or in some way indicates that the person who experienced the violence is in some way to blame, will often result in the person not speaking of the violence again or for a very long time. This can lead to the trauma severely impacting that person’s life. 

To be the person someone chooses to tell the most awful story of their life to is a very honourable place to be. It is also a place of great responsibility. Below are some examples of important things to do and say to someone who tells you they have been sexually assaulted. 

Say...

This is heard as...

I am sorry for what has happened.  

I believe you. 

What happened is a crime.

This is not your fault.

I will do what I can to help.

You are not alone.

 

Help is available for supporters too...

Counsellors can provide support for non offending family members and friends. This may include assistance with understanding and managing their own response to having someone they care about experiencing violence, and working with them to develop strategies to best assist that person.

Contact Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia 24/7: 

In NSW: 1800 424 017

Outside NSW: 1800 737 732

 

For more information, download a copy of the Responding with Compassion Factsheet 

 

Get Help 24/7

Find out abut sexual assault and domestic violence

Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia  I  ABN 58 023 656 939

PO Box 555 Drummoyne NSW 2047 | Tel 02 8585 0333 Fax 02 9555 5911

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