Has someone you care about been affected by sexual assault or rape?
Your feelings about the sexual abuse or rape they have experienced may be very complicated, whether it happened recently or a long time ago.
It is important to recognise these feelings and think about how to manage them so that you can provide the best possible support to your family member or friend.
By being supportive, respectful and non-judgmental you can help them to recover and live a full and meaningful life.
How you can help
- Believe what they tell you. They may find it difficult to explain what happened in a clear and consistent way. This is because sexual assault and rape are traumatic experiences. The body and brain can react in complex ways resulting in memories that are confused.
- Ask them how you may be able to help but give them time and space to respond and respect their decisions. Restoring their sense of control over themselves and their life is vital in helping them to begin to recover from what has happened to them.
- Reassure them that their feelings are normal. This includes feelings of self-blame and guilt but remind them that responsibility lies with the person who did this to them.
- Check that they are now physically safe and if not help them to make arrangements to become safe. Tell that that you are there to help and offer information about The Bridge.
- Do not make promises you cannot keep.
Support for you
We offer counselling to people who are supporting a family member or friend following a sexual assault or rape.
We understand that you may feel confused about what is happening for them and how you can best give your support. You may also have your own strong feelings about what has happened and what should happen now.
Speaking with one of our specialist counsellors can help you to make sense of your own feelings, understand what might be going on for your friend or family member and enable you to give them good support.