How You Can Best Help a Victim

What are specific ways family, friends, and pastors can help victims of sexual assault?

  • Listen. Don’t be judgmental. Research has proven that the only social reactions related to better adjustment by victims were being believed and being listened to by others.

  • Let them know the assault(s) was not their fault.

  • Let them know they did what was necessary to prevent further harm.

  • Reassure the survivor that he or she is cared for and loved.

  • Be patient. Remember, it will take him/her some time to deal with the crime.

  • Encourage the sexual assault victim to seek medical attention.

  • Empower the victim. Don’t tell them what they should do or make decisions on their behalf, rather present the options and help them think through them.

  • Encourage the survivor to talk about the assault(s) with an advocate, pastor, mental health professional, law-enforcement officer, or someone they trust.

  • Let them know they do not have to manage this crisis alone.

  • Remember that sexual assault victims have different needs (what may have been beneficial for one person might not work for another).

  • Remember not to ask for probing questions about the assault. Probing questions can cause revictimization. Follow the victim’s lead and listen.

Adapted from Rid of My Disgrace by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb.

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