Help someone affected by sexual violence. Te āwhina i tētahi atu.
If you're supporting someone who's experienced sexual violence you can be an important part of their recovery just by being there, listening, believing them and by not judging them.
You might feel completely out of your depth and be worried about saying the wrong thing. It's not unusual for both victim/survivors and their supporters to struggle with feeling helpless after sexual violence has happened. Plenty of other feelings will arise too. Here are some tips on supporting someone:
The correct place to come from is one of love: 'I'm glad you told me, it's not your fault, I am here for you'.
For many victim/survivors, support is a crucial part of the healing process and receiving compassionate responses from friends and family (e.g 'You didn't do anything to deserve this, I'm sorry this happened'), can make a real difference.
It’s fine not to have all the answers. Most of the time listening, and just letting them know you're there for them is the very best thing you can do. Let them know that you care, that you don’t blame them, and that you believe in them.
There are no quick or easy fixes for healing from sexual violence, so it’s important to be patient when the process seems to be taking what some consider to be a long time. Remember that certain places, words or smells can be triggering Something (a place, sound or something else) that causes distress by bringing back feelings or memories associated with a traumatic experience. View the full glossary and that this is a normal response for someone who has experienced trauma.
To provide effective support for your loved one, it's crucial that you also take care of yourself. Some specialist sexual assault Sexual Assault is a braod term used to cover all types of sexual offending, including rape. View the full glossary services offer counselling to family, friends and whānau of the person affected by sexual violence. You might want to check out the useful links page on this website. There's also information on this website about getting support, telling Police, and about the Court process.
MYTH: But she's a little girl and he's family; if it really happened she would have told us sooner...
FACT: Not all children react the same way to sexual violence, some may tell someone straight away and others may not. It is common for the perpetrator to hold a position of trust and power - grooming can influence if, and when, a child tells someone.