The truth about sexual violence:

It is never the fault of the survivor.

Your friend was not assaulted because of something they did or did not do. It has nothing to do with what they were wearing. It has nothing to do with going to a social event. It has nothing to do with not fighting or not saying “no” loud enough.

Sexual assault can occur in dating situations, in friendships, and between acquaintances who’ve just met.

It happens to people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, cultural identities, ethnicities, ages, and social classes.

Sexual assault occurs because there was a person in the room willing to commit sexual or interpersonal violence.

A person who was willing to coerce, manipulate, pressure, or overpower your friend in order to hurt them. A person who did not receive their ongoing, freely given consent.

Refer to our page on common reactions for more information.

Listen

  • Do not ask questions about the details of the experience. Just listen.

Believe

  • Believe their story. It will help in their recovery.
  • Remember they may have trouble understanding or remembering what happened to them.

Accept

  • Allow your friend to make their own decisions about what they want to do.
  • Do NOT make the decisions for them.

Validate

  • Validate their experience.
  • Communicate to them that it is not their fault under any circumstances, including what they wore, or what they did.

Support

  • Find out what they need from you.
  • Talk with them about confidential sources of support and information:
    • Survivor Advocacy and Resource Center
    • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners
    • CAPS counselors