First, take a deep breath. Listening to someone’s story of experiencing sexual assault is difficult, draining, shocking, and hard to take in. But, listening to a person’s experience with sexual assault is a very important step. If the person is an adult, don’t try to have an immediate solution—just listen and let the person know they are being heard.
If the person is a minor, call the police and report it. Don’t overthink this one, just report it. If the individual is an adult, gently suggest completing a rape kit, even if they didn’t experience penetrative assault of any kind. Medical examinations and the evidence they provide are so important. Additionally, you can also gently suggest adults report the crime to the police. Try to accompany the person to the medical examination and/or the police station if they allow you to do so.
Once the first description of sexual assault is over, take another deep breath. Things are going to be a little tricky for a bit as you adjust to this new knowledge. Don’t run away from it. Be brave, be compassionate, and be present. You can do this. You can call the hotlines mentioned above to get advice on how you can be of assistance to the person who shared their story.
Since there are not a lot of resources for the friends and family members of people who experience sexual assault, I wrote a book as a resource for exactly this sort of thing. You can find it below:
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