Things to remember when helping a loved one:
Helping a loved one through a difficult situation such as rape and sexual assault can be challenging and difficult. It is difficult to know what to say or how to be supportive. We have combined a list of some important things to remember when talking with a loved one who has been sexually assaulted. Of course there is no easy answer, but here are a few tips:
BELIEVE your loved one. It is difficult to disclose a sexual assault, especially if people don't believe you. Don’t blame the survivor. Sometimes hearing you ask these questions can trigger emotional responses and feelings of blame and self-doubt.
LISTEN to your loved one’s story. Your loved one will tell you what he/she feels comfortable sharing. Sometimes the most difficult, yet most effective thing we can do is listen without judgment.
PROVIDE OPTIONS that help them decide what they want to do, but do not tell them what you think is best.
BE AWARE OF THE TENDENCY FOR DENIAL that is common after a sexual assault. One of the mind's coping mechanisms is to block out certain memories to protect itself.
RESPECT your loved one’s privacy. The details of the sexual assault may be gruesome and unpleasant. Asking too many questions may risk losing your loved one's trust. Listen to your loved one’s story.
ENCOURAGE your loved one to seek medical attention:
If the rape just occurred, and your loved one wants to get medical attention, you can go directly to the Emergency Room at CHOMP or at Natividad. Getting medical care will help ensure treatment for non-visible injuries. Medical staff can prescribe medication to prevent pregnancy and check for STDs. Reporting the crime and pressing charges may help the person feel empowered.
ENCOURAGE your loved one to seek counseling:
Calling a rape crisis line can help your loved one deal with the rape by providing an impartial, confidential person to listen. Our services are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are available for survivors, friends and/or family of survivors. We can provide additional information helping you and your loved one by request. Please contact us at the MCRCC 24-Hour Crisis Monterey Peninsula Line: (831) 375-4357 or the Salinas/South County Line: (831) 424-4357.
The Monterey County Rape Crisis Center offers both individual and group counseling at our local office. For more information click here.