Sexual assault can be really traumatic, your friend might be feeling a whole range of emotions like anger, sadness or confusion. The most important thing you can do if someone tells you they have been sexually assaulted is believe them. Listen to what they tell you and how they are feeling, and try to help them connect with support services that know about sexual assault.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
If you’re not sure what to do or say you can call Kids Helpline or 1800 RESPECT or speak to your school counsellor, they will give you advice on how you can support your friend. You can find a list of sexual assault support services in each state here. You can read more here and here about how to help your friend.
Sexual assault is a massive breach of trust, so it’s really important to let your friend know that they can trust you. Questions that blame or question your friend’s actions may make them feel blamed for the assault. Try to avoid questions like:
These kinds of questions might make your friend feel worse, and stop them from seeking help from a counsellor. The best thing you can do is listen to your friend and just be there for them. Telling someone else will be one of the hardest time’s in a survivor of sexual assault’s recovery, it doesn’t matter how long ago the assault occurred, whether it was last night or five years ago. So let your friend tell you in their own time and on their own terms.
Supporting your friend might affect you emotionally too, so it’s important to remember to look after yourself. Make some time to relax, or do something that will help reduce your stress levels. Talk to someone you trust about what you are feeling, like a school counsellor. You can call Kids Helpline or 1800 RESPECT, and they also have online counselling services if you think that would be easier.