Believe him or her unconditionally. Only 1-2 percent of those who claim sexual assault are found to be false reports.
Remember that sexual assault is about power and control. Sexual assault is not about sex. It pertains to the domination over another individual.
Give the survivor control over his or her decisions. During sexual assault, power is taken away from the survivor. It is important to let the survivor take back the power they lost from the attack. It is also important that one supports their decisions no matter what they choose.
Understand that you cannot control their suffering. You cannot wave a wand and make the survivor feel better. But you can be there for the survivor.
Understand that healing is a slow process. The survivor may experience a range of emotions including but not limited to denial, disbelief, fear, depression, mood swings, anger, helplessness, or appetite changes. It’s important to remember that there is no typical or single emotional response to sexual assault. Each person is different in how they deal with the situation.
Listen to the survivor. Let the person know that you are there for them to talk to whenever they are ready.
Assure the survivor that it is not their fault. Sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault. Make sure that there is no implied blame when asking about the incident. Refrain from questions like 'Why were you at that location at that time,' or 'What were you wearing?' The survivor did not ask to be sexually assaulted.
Encourage medical attention. Even if the survivor does not want to file a police report, it is important that he or she receives a medical exam to ensure they are OK. These exams are paid for by the county in which the crime occurred. Not by the victim or their insurance company.
Let the survivor know that professional help is available. SAPBCHC offers free counseling and support groups for survivors of sexual assault. The center also has a free anonymous hotline available 24 hours a day at 800-708-2727
Also, remember your own needs. Pay attention to yourself and how you are dealing with the situation. Take care of yourself. Find help if you need it. It is beneficial to find someone who you can talk to about what is going on SAPBCHC also works with secondary victims.