How To: Support a friend who has been assaulted.
Put them first - This isn't about how you feel.
Do not get upset that they didn't tell you earlier.
Do not pressure them into telling the police.
Do not imply they could be lying.
Validate the person and their experiences.
Do not control what happens next.
Be patient and calm.
Be ok with silence/rambling thoughts/repeated sentences.
Do not hijack the conversation by making it a competition.
Manage misconceptions - Misconceptions you or your friend may have include:
To be assaulted it needs to be in a dark alley by a stranger.
Reality: Sexual assault by a complete stranger is less than 1% of cases and most sexual assaults are committed in a house.
Maybe they thought i was into it because we'd done it before.
Reality: Consent is never implied and must be ongoing and enthusiastic, regardless of past history.
It wasn't that bad if there are no injuries.
Reality: Just over a quarter of people are injured.
False allegations of assault are rife.
Reality: Quite rare, English study in 2013 found only 23 out of 5651 sexual assault allegations were false.
Sexual violence is a class/age based issue.
Reality: It is not, these factors are irrelevant.
Avoid statements like: 'You should', 'maybe move on', 'don't worry about it'.
It takes the choice away from someone who has already experienced a lack of choice.
Anything that says their reaction is somehow wrong or unjustified.
Reassure - Make sure they are aware that they will not be alone.
They do not have to report but there is help if they do.
If they want friends or family in the courtroom they are allowed.
If they want support but are not sure who to ask, they can receive a support person who is familiar with the court system to accompany them from services such as Victim Support ACT.
Make sure you are ok and seek help if you want to from 1800RESPECT.
Further support includes:
Victim Support (counselling and court companions) (02) 6205 2066.
Canberra Rape Crisis Centre (Free confidential counselling for you and friend - does not require a police report) (02) 6247 2525.