Take the time to digest what you hear, and seek help if you feel that it would be helpful or necessary for you.
Refrain from disclosing these emotions to survivors though, as it can add to existing guilty feelings, but don't be afraid to take time for yourself. It is very common for survivors of sexual assault to refrain from immediately disclosing their experiences to others, including to parents.
Some survivors never feel ready to take those steps, and that’s okay.
This means acknowledging that it’s valid for them to feel the way that they are feeling, even if you wish that they didn’t.
For example, if a survivor says that they wish that they had not gone to the party where the assault happened, a supportive friend could respond by saying, “That’s valid, I can see why you would feel that way.
The United States Department of Justice defines relationship abuse as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report.
Relationship abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
For instance, you can ask if they would like you to accompany them to the office of a mental health professional, to the Title IX coordinator, or to the police.
That being said, remember to make it clear that you will not judge them negatively for their decision on whether or not to seek outside help.For instance, some survivors may choose not to discuss the trauma with anyone, whereas others are more comfortable sharing their stories immediately.Regardless of how or when the survivor discloses their experience to you, it’s important to validate their emotions.I just want you to know though that it’s really not your fault - it’s the perpetrator’s, and while you have every right to feel how you’re feeling, it’s important for you to know that, truly, you are not to blame for what happened.”Validating the survivor’s emotions helps them see that what they are feeling is neither wrong nor shameful, and also gives the survivor the space to process their thoughts, reactions, and feelings.Avoid phrases like, "No matter how you feel that the situation should be handled, be sure to support your friend or loved one's choices.Allow them to say as much or as little as they feel comfortable disclosing, and be prepared to simply listen.