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VIP: Survivor Support
The University of Mississippi

How to help your survivor friend(s):

Find out how to help a friend who has been sexually assaulted.

Sexual assault is a traumatic event in a person’s life. It has rippling effects on friends and family. Your friend needs time to heal – it does not happen overnight.

What you should know:

  • Your friend may be afraid of:
    • Being alone
    • Anything that reminds her or him of the rape and/or rapist
    • Reactions from people she or he cares about
  • Your friend may experience feelings of:
    • Outrage, guilt, anger or embarrassment
    • Physical pain from being hurt and abused
    • Helplessness, isolation, alienation and withdrawal
  • Your friend may have difficulty:
    • Relating to others
    • Expressing affection

How you can help your friend:

  • Know the facts: According to recent FBI statistics, a rape happens every 6 minutes in the United States.
  • Believe your friend. It takes courage and strength to tell someone about a traumatic event. Your friend trusts you.
  • Listen to your friend. Let your friend talk at his or her own pace. Give control to your friend.
  • Give information to your friend about getting help, but let your friend decide when to call.
  • Take care of yourself. Resources are available to help you support your friend.