After the Assault: How You Can Help

Nationally in April there is an effort to raise awareness about sexual assault. had some guidance for how you can be part of the solution to assist in a situation where you’re seeing an assault and what you can do to prevent it. We’re all finding out about more and more instances of sexual assault – on campuses, in the military and parties.

What if you know someone who has been assaulted? What can you do to help them process and deal with this in their lives? Here’s some food for thought:

  • Encourage your friend to seek medical attention and offer to go with them wherever they need to go (hospital, police station, campus security, etc.)
  • Another part of Just Talking About It is to Just Listen. Be supportive – be there and see what you can learn about how your friend feels, without any judgment.
  • Be patient. Remember, it will take your friend some time to deal with the crime that was committed against him or her. Even though someone else committed the crime, your friend may embarrassed or ashamed, making it even tougher to share.
  • Sexual assault is a crime that takes away an individual’s power. Encourage them to take their power back and take the next steps – but read the signs from your friend, and don’t put too much pressure on if they’re not ready.
  • Encourage your friend to report the rape to law enforcement (call 911 in most areas). If your friend has questions about the criminal justice process, talking with someone on the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-HOPE, can help.
  • Help your friend get more support he or she might need. Again, the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-HOPE and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline can be great resources for finding the professional help needed for living with what happened.

We have a ways to go to make sexual assault be a thing of the past. In the meantime, we all have a role to play in lending a hand to those who have survived an assault.