IPFW/Parkview Student Assistance Program

Helping a Survivor of Sexual Assault

  • Believe her/him. A big fear of survivors is that they will not be believed.
  • Listen. Allow your friend to talk through this at her/his own pace. Reassure the survivor that you want to listen and will be there as long as you’re needed.
  • Comfort. Soothe your friend verbally. Some survivors may want to be held and hugged; others may not want to be touched. Let her/him decide.
  • Reinforce that the assault was not the survivor's fault. Survivors often blame themselves. Allow your friend to talk this out but continue to help her/him see that the fault lies with the assailant. 
  • Provide protection. See that your friend has a safe place to sleep and be available when she/he is on their own again.

Call a sexual assault treatment center, a rape crisis center, or hotline whether it was a completed rape or an attempted rape. They will provide a professional response to the traumatization and can give advice on what to do next.

  • Encourage the survivor to preserve evidence. The survivor should not bathe or clean up before an exam and any clothing worn during or after the assault should be brought to the examination.                                 
  • Encourage the survivor to treat any medical needs. Your friend should have a thorough medical exam and treatment for any injuries, possible STDs, or pregnancy. 
  • Let the survivor make decisions. Help your friend organize his/her thoughts and feelings. You may give input but the survivor has the right to make the ultimate decisions. She/he needs to regain control of life and needs to decide what’s best for recovery. Encourage your friend to get counseling to help with long-term effects. 
  • Be available. The survivor will continue to need your support as a friend, especially in the next weeks and months.
  • Do not try to take the law into your own hands. Talking about revenge may add an extra burden to the survivor of a sexual assault. Putting energy into “getting back” takes away from your friend’s need for support. 
  • Get help for yourself. You may need to talk to someone to deal with your own thoughts and feelings about the situation. Take care of yourself as well as your friend.

After Hours Assistance