Supporting a Friend After a Sexual Assault

If the assault has just occurred

  • Make sure you and your friend are in a safe location.
  • Offer to stay with your friend or to call another caring friend to stay with him/her. In order to preserve evidence, remind your friend not to wash, eat, drink, douche, clean, use the bathroom (if possible), or change clothes. If your friend does change clothes, be sure to save what s/he was wearing in a brown paper bag.
  • Suggest medical treatment at Newton Wellesley Hospital or another hospital with a SANE program. 
  • For confidential support and guidance, encourage your friend to review the confidential resources listed here.  
  • Suggest reporting the incident to Babson Public Safety, Wellesley Police and/or any of the other resources listed here.  Remember, it is your friend's decision whether to report the assault or not (your friend's identity will be protected to the maximum extent allowed by law and/or college policy).

How to help anytime

  • Provide your friend with support and comfort and make sure you and your friend are in a location that you and your friend feel safe. Always ask permission before touching or hugging.
  • Always believe your friend. Remember that your friend's behavior did not cause him/her to be assaulted.  Tell him/her: "I'm glad you told me. I believe you and I'm sorry this happened."
  • When your friend is speaking, listen non-judgmentally and validate your friend's distress. Don't ask your friend to tell you more than s/he wants.
  • Remember that silence is acceptable - your friend may not want to talk but may simply not want to be alone.
  • Allow your friend the freedom to choose when, where, and how to talk about the assault. Avoid blaming questions or statements, such as "Why did you go there?", "Why didn't you tell me sooner?", "That wasn't a good idea." 
  • Remind your friend of the options available regarding medical care, counseling, and reporting. Remember, you can encourage (but not force) your friend report the assault or seek medical care.

Resist escalating violence

  • Your friend has come to you for help.  Satisfying your desire for revenge isn't going to help him/her.

Get help for yourself

  • If you're feeling angry, helpless, confused or hurt, get help for yourself. Many of the resources listed on the resource page are available to you as well.