TO DO IF SOMEONE YOU CARE ABOUT HAS BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED
first and most important thing you can do is listen without blaming.
The survivor is probably nervous to talk about what has
happened and has chosen you as a person that can be trusted. You
don't really have to say anything special; you just need to listen
to as much as they want to say, express to them how much you love
and care for them, tell them that you are honored that they would
come to you, and, most importantly, tell them that they
are not to blame.
Once a survivor starts sharing, they may just
tell a little, or they may tell a lot; it depends on many factors.
Your role is just to listen without judgment.
If the survivor shares something very graphic
that is hard to listen to, you may share your feelings with them;
however, it is VERY IMPORTANT that they know
that you are just shocked and saddened by the horror of what they
had to endure. Let them know that they have not changed in your
If they wish to report the assault to the police,
they can just call 911
or their local police department who will guide them from there.
A sexual assault exam (also known as a forensic
exam) may be required. The police may decide that a medical exam
is needed to collect evidence. If so, they will call the Sexual
Assault Emergency Response Team (SART) and drive the survivor
to a specially equipped hospital where an advocate from the local
rape crisis center and a sexual assault nurse examiner will be
If the survivor doesn't know whether to report the assault
or not, you can discuss their options with them, refer
them to What to do if you have been assaulted, or call our twenty-four
hotline at (818) 886-0453
or (661) 253-0258.
Encourage them to make their own decision whether
to report or not; don't make the decision for them.
If the survivor chooses not to report, that is okay.
Since the survivor is the person who will have to go through the
sexual assault exam and possibly testify and recount the event
with no guarantee of the outcome, it is important that they choose
this option themselves.
It is important that the survivor receive medical attention.
Note that all medical providers are mandated reporters and will
call law enforcement if they have knowledge of or suspect sexual
assault; it is important that the survivor know this before making
an appointment. They may choose to go to their family physician,
Planned Parenthood, or a local family planning clinic.
Should the survivor go to counseling? Again,
this is an individual decision that only the survivor can make.
You may want to encourage them to try it out, as it can help reduce
symptoms of Post
Traumatic Stress (PTSD).
Although counseling is not for everyone, most people find it beneficial.
Should you go to counseling? This is an option
available to you and may be quite helpful.
Counseling at Valley Trauma Center can be arranged by calling
our twenty-four hour hotline at (818)
886-0453 or (661)
it is not their fault.