How to Help a Friend
For help after a sexual assault, read about potential options.
How to Respond to a Person Disclosing Sexual Abuse/Assault
- Be aware of your own feelings about sexual abuse.
- If you are uncomfortable talking about this issue, it is okay. Helping the survivor identify who might be able to talk with them about the issue can also be supportive.
- Try to respond calmly and openly.
- Hearing about sexual abuse can be difficult. It can be very helpful to a survivor if you remain calm and non-judgmental.
- Refrain from negative comments about the perpetrator.
- Keep in mind that most often, about 85% of the time, individuals who are sexually assaulted/abused are assaulted by someone they know. As a result they may have mixed feelings about the person.
- Do not interrogate.
- Let the individual tell you about the abuse on his/her terms. Do not pressure the person but let him/her talk when they are comfortable.
- Let the individual know that you believe him/her.
- Fear of not being believed is a concern expressed by many survivors. Being believed is important for people of all ages.
- Commend the survivor for talking and reaching out for help.
- Talking about the abuse is often a big step. Acknowledge this.
- Assure the survivors that they are not to blame for the assault.
- Survivors often have deep feelings of guilt or shame about the abuse. Only sexual offenders are at fault for the abuse.
- Respect the privacy of the survivor.
- For abuse involving a minor, all adults in NH are mandated to report it to the authorities. With adult survivors, do not share what was told in confidence. If you think another person would be better able to help, give the survivor that person's name.
- Provide information about supportive services.
- RAINN is a national hotline that connects callers to the crisis center closest to them based on the phone number they are calling from. The RAINN number is 1-800-656-HOPE. An individual can also check his or her phone book for the local crisis center.
- Report any abuse involving a minor.
- In New Hampshire, call the Division of Children, Youth and Families at 1-800-894-5533.
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