What can I do? How can I help?
what just happened?
Someone you care about has been the victim of an assault. This is a very traumatic experience for them, but it also will have an impact on you, their family and friends. The information below will give you some information to help you support your friend/family member and to identify way to cope with your response to this event.
If the victim is being taken to the emergency room or is there now, their stay there may take up to four (4) hours or more.
what should i do?
Due to confidentiality regulations you may not be able to see the victim right away. You can help by bringing clean clothing and underwear for them to wear home. If you are able to see them in the examining room ask a nurse or the advocate with them before you offer them anything to eat or drink. If you need to leave the Emergency Room give the reception desk a contact phone number.
what do i say when i see a survivor?
You may have a hard time finding the right words to say. Do not feel that you must have all the answers for the survivor, but you can be a non-judgmental listener. Having someone there can be very important for a survivor. Let them know that you care, that you don't blame them, and that you believe them.
You can start with:
"I am very sorry this happened to you"
"This wasn't your fault."
"The most important thing is that you survived, so you did the right things."
"I am here to listen when you feel ready to talk."
Then what do i do?
There is no quick or universal process for healing from sexual violence, each survivor will develop their own coping strategies and will heal in their own time. It is very important during this process that the survivor is given the opportunity to have a say about what happens in their life.
Encourage them to follow-up with recommended medical appointments, counseling and support opportunities, but respect their decisions and support them unconditionally. This includes their decisions about interaction with law enforcement and prosecution.
You may offer to comfort them with a hug or other contact, but allow them to set the boundaries for, physical contact ant intimacy. Allow them to tell you as much or as little as they feel comfortable sharing, but do not ask specific questions about the details of the event.
Offer to go with them for law enforcement or counseling appointments.
will they ever get through this?
Recovery from sexual assault is different for each survivor. It is important to remember that this, like any significant life event, will always be part of the survivor's life story. They will define how it affects their life and the definition may change as time goes on.
i feel like i have been a victim too
Friends and family members of victims of crime are secondary survivors, who frequently feel as if they have suffered an assault on their sense of security and emotional well-being. These feelings of devastation may bring anger, shock or guilt for not being able to protect a loved one or a desire for revenge. It is important for your well-being that you identify and accept when you are having these feelings. If you find they prevent you from carrying out your daily routines and are preventing you from supporting the assault survivor, seek counseling ans support for yourself.
for the survivor
Haven Women's Center
618 13th Street, Modesto
301 Starr Ave, Turlock
National Sexual Assault Hotline
Community support group
Friends are Good Medicine
Mental Health or Counseling Services