If Your Friend Says #Metoo, Here’s What You Can Do

Me Too Sexual Assault Rape

How to Support a Friend Who Has Been Raped or Sexually Assaulted

Sexual assault has been all over the news and social media lately with the rise of the #MeToo movement. With the increasing number of public disclosures, you may have seen a friend join the movement by posting #metoo. Chances are, you know someone who has been sexually assaulted. 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of a rape or attempted rape.  But it can be difficult to know what to say to someone in this time of crisis and vulnerability.

Here are some things you can do and say to your friend who has been sexually assaulted:

Tell Them You Believe Them

One of the biggest reasons survivors don’t tell anyone about their assault is that they fear that no one will believe them. This is a complex belief that has many layers. Some survivors think that people will believe a part of their story but not the whole thing. Some fear that people will think they are exaggerating. Some fear that people will NEVER believe that the accused attacker could do such a thing. The ‘he said, she said’ phenomenon can make rape cases difficult to prosecute, which adds to a survivors fear of coming forward. If no one will believe me, what’s the point? Some survivors even have difficulty believing it themselves. They can’t believe someone they know would do this to them etc. So as a friend, one of the most important things you can do is simply tell them you believe them.

Remind Them It’s Not Their Fault

Society has a history of blaming victims of sexual assault. What was she wearing? Was she flirting with him? Did she lead him on? Why was she walking alone at night? Did she willingly go into the room with him? These are horrifically insensitive and IRRELEVANT questions. If someone got jumped on the street, would you question what they were wearing or how they were behaving? Many survivors already deal with the guilt and shame associated with such a traumatic event, and these questions only further isolate them from coming forward. We need to remind survivors that they did nothing wrong. It doesn’t matter what you were wearing. It doesn’t matter if you were flirting with him. It doesn’t matter if you consented to kissing him. If the attacker does ANYTHING beyond what you consented to, that is assault. Make sure your friend BELIEVES this wasn’t her fault, no matter how she rationalizes it in her mind, or how many “mistakes” she points out, she did NOT deserve this. There is ONLY one person to blame for the assault and that is the offender.

You’re Not Alone

Sexual assault is a far too prevalent problem in the world. Fortunately, that means we do have dedicated resources to help survivors navigate through this difficult time. Many states have rape crisis centers that offer complimentary services for survivors like medical advocacy (helping the survivor through the medical processes and rape exam), court advocacy (helping survivors understand their legal options), and counseling services. These services are important because they can help minimize the trauma and pave a hopeful road to recovery. *Note – these services can also help survivors avoid the financial burden of medical and legal support after an assault

If your friend is struggling and needs an experienced crisis counselor to talk to, please share the following:

National Sexual Assault Chat Line: https://www.rainn.org/get-help

National Sexual Assault Call Line: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

Another great way to support your friend is to get involved with rape crisis advocacy and prevention education. You can find nationwide opportunities here: https://www.rainn.org/get-involved

 

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