Helping Friends or Family Members

Info for Friends and Family

There are many ways that you can help a friend or family member who has been raped or sexually assaulted:

  • Listen. Be there. Don’t be judgmental.
  • Be patient. Remember, it will take your friend some time to deal with the crime.
  • Encourage your friend to report the rape to law enforcement (call 911 in most areas). If your friend has questions about the criminal justice process, an Online Hotline trained volunteer or staff can help.
  • Help to empower your friend or family member. Sexual assault is a crime that takes away an individual’s power; it is important not to compound this experience by putting pressure on your friend or family member to do things that he or she is not ready to do yet.
  • Let your friend know that professional help is available through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE, and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline.
  • Encourage him or her to call the hotline, but realize that only your friend can make the decision to get help.
  • Realize that they won’t heal overnight.  Healing from rape is a process that can have many setbacks.  Just be patient.

It is also important to note that having a friend or family member who is assaulted can be a very upsetting experience. For this reason, it is also important that you take care of yourself. Even if your friend or family member isn’t ready to talk to a hotline volunteer or staff, you can get support for yourself. You can also get ideas about ways to help your friend or family member through the recovery process.


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