Sexual violence is inflicted on all races, people of all economic statuses, across all ages and gender. Victims of sexual assault feel a wide range of emotions and often need support from family, friends and professionals to piece their lives back together. Family and friends are important to recovery for the victim; without the support of loved ones, victims will struggle to recover. As the designated center for sexual assault victims in Carroll County, Rape Crisis Intervention Service of Carroll County (RCIS) offers support services for victims and significant others to aid in the healing process. All services offered by RCIS are free and confidential to all clients.
Has Someone You Know Been Recently Sexually Assaulted? *
Encourage your loved one to receive medical care immediately even if it has been weeks or months since the assault. You can encourage a victim to receive medial care by offering these options: SAFE exams (see For Victims and Survivors page for more on SAFE exams), Carroll County Health Department (care is confidential and fees are on a sliding scale) or suggesting they visit their regular gynecologist.
Helping a Victim *
Listen. It can be difficult for a survivor to open up to family and friends. If your loved one has decided to share this difficult experience with you, listen with compassion and without judgment and do not interrupt. Wait until you have heard the whole story and choose your words carefully before responding. Loved ones should understand that victims are struggling to comprehend the crime committed against them and work through their crisis. Remaining calm and simply listening to the victim in your life is the best way to be supportive (See Listening Techniques, below, for some more listening tips).
Give back control. The perpetrator has stripped the victim of their decision-making ability by not abiding by their right to say no. Re-empower your loved one by encouraging them to make decisions for themselves. A victim cannot endure this tragedy alone but they do not need a lecture, or your plan for healing. They need a compassionate ear.
Normalize their feelings. Assure them that their reactions and what they may be feeling are normal. There is no “right” way to react to the trauma caused by sexual assault.
Listening Techniques *
Try to remain calm when your loved one discloses their assault. It takes a lot of courage to disclose to one’s family and friends so encourage them in taking this step. Try to avoid asking for details – would you want to describe every detail of someone violating your body? Refrain from blaming the victim for anything they may have done during the assault. Blaming will only make the situation worse and give the victim a reason to never tell you anything personal again.
If you have questions or suggestions for your loved one, use the following phrases:
- Do you feel…
- Can you tell me more…
- Could it be that…
- I’m wondering if you’ve thought of…
- What do you think might happen if…
- There is no wrong way to feel…everyone reacts differently.
Please visit our For Victims & Survivors page for more information about our services.