When you find out a friend has been victimized
many thoughts will fly through
your mind. You may experience conflicting emotions on
needs to be done. You
may feel lonely and overwhelmed - especially at first.
This page is written in an attempt to help you deal with
the situation. It's not a
complete list but only one offered as an attempt to help.
First, calm down. Remaining as calm as possible is the
best thing you can do for yourself and the victim of the crime.
Safety. Take the necessary steps to get the victim to
safety as quickly as you can
without endangering yourself. The best bet is usually
to call your local police department.
Offer assurance. The person victimized will have
He/She may be afraid that you will think less of
The victim may be unsure of what to tell others and may
be afraid of
how others will react. There may be some nervousness
about the physical
examination. (Especially if this is the first time for
an internal examination.)
It is possible that they will try to blame themselves
happened instead of blaming the attacker who did the
There may be immediate concerns regarding children, child
their job, or school.
If any of these come up try to be as reassuring as possible.
person know that you care and that you will continue
to do so. Answer
any questions that are asked as truthfully as you can.
If you don't
know the answer it's ok to say so. Just be honest with
the victim and
Even if there is no outward sign of injury encourage
attention. Some injuries may not be obvious to someone
is always best to seek help. The medical evidence will
be needed in
case a decision is made to prosecute.
Encourage the person victimized to talk about it
as she/he is comfortable.
It is hard to listen to over and over again but is necessary
for healing. On
the flip side of the coin prying for facts may do more
harm than good.
Be accepting of the person's desire to prosecute or not
to prosecute. This
is a difficult thing to do. Your feelings may not necessarily
match those of
the person victimized. Try to respect what their feelings
might be. It is a
difficult decision to make. Knowing you will be there
no matter what is the
key to moving through the assault.
In a survey taken on our website the number 1 fear of
rape survivors was the fear of being disbelieved. Believing what your friend
tells you about what happened is extremely important. After all, your friend
or loved one has just lived through one of the most horrible things that
can happen to a person--and has survived.
Don't judge. Don't second-guess any actions the
survivor made during the attack. Only the person facing the attacker knew
what it took to survive. Coming out of the attack alive is the
biggest things that counts.
This is a major life changing event. A survivor will heal
or deal with the rape in many different stages with many different feelings.
1. Acute Stage.
This stage may include crying uncontrollably, being in
shock, trying to deny what happened, jumpiness, extreme irritability or
it may also include a very controlled reaction. The survivor may smile
a lot or make jokes acting as if it were no big deal (denial). The survivor
may be extra calm or subdued and appear cold or unfeeling or extremely
fearful and with feelings of overwhelming guilt. The survivor may even
blame themselves or may try to portray the rape as a betrayal or affair
as a form of denial.
This stage is where the survivor begins to reorganize
and deal with the longer term effects of the rape. It may include: therapy, expressing feelings, dealing with grief or loss issues, moving, buying a large dog, changing jobs or otherwise reevaluating life. It is
during this time that we begin to move on from what happened and reclaim
Survivors don't usually go through this process smoothly.
There will be times when the survivor will not want you out of her sight
and times when the survivor won't want anyone around. Learning all you
can is essential. Survivors may move from one stage of recovery to another
and back again.
Most survivors go on to develop Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder (P.T.S.D.) It is also called rape-related
P.T.S.D. This does not mean the survivor is going crazy. P.T.S.D. is a
normal reaction to abnormal events.
In the end, the biggest help to a survivor is knowing
you will be there. Having someone to offer support in a nonjudgmental way
can be the key to healing. Be supportive and let the survivor lean on you.
Don't make any decisions for the survivor but instead offer your support.
Let the survivor know that you will "be there" no matter what.
You may need support too. That's ok. Rape Crisis Centers
often offer support for friends and family members of those surviving rape.
Don't be afraid to contact your local center. If you aren't sure where to find one, the people at RAINNcan help.
Above all else, remember, it is not the victim's fault
he/she was attacked. The attack was done to that person because a perpetrator
decided to commit a crime. This did not happen because of anything the
survivor did or did not do, said or wore. Rape is never the fault of the
victim. It is always the fault of the perpetrator.
In most states, there is a criminal compensation
fund set up to help with expenses. Your local rape crisis center or victim's
advocate will have the information.