As a friend, it can be extremely difficult to know someone you care about has experienced sexual violence. It is important to remember they have had their power and control taken away from them.
You can help them start to regain control by listening to them, asking if they would like information and options, and always respect their decisions.
There is not a set timeline for coping or healing, and it is important to provide support along the way—even weeks, months, or years later.
There is no typical or standard way someone responds to experiencing interpersonal or sexual violence. The best course of action to help someone is to ask them what they need and offer to connect them with professional support.
Try one of these suggestions to navigate how to help:
Seek immediate professional help if your friend or loved one displays any suicidal or self-harming behaviors or if you are worried about their emotional or physical well-being.
Believe your friend or loved one.
Let your friend or loved one make decisions about how they want to cope with their experience.
Manage your own emotions and take care of yourself.
Avoid judgment or blame you may feel towards your friend or loved one regarding any circumstances surrounding the incident.
Recognize your friend or loved one’s need for privacy.
Check-in with your friend or loved one.
To learn more, visit: Safe.unc.edu - Supporting Victims/Survivors