Do not blame the victim.
Comments such as "Why were you there?", "How did you get yourself in that situation?", or "You should have known better" place the responsibility of the assault on the victim instead of where it truly belongs: with the offender. Although the intention of asking these questioins may be to grasp what had happened, the victim may feel that you are blaming her for the assault. Instead of making comments which could be interpreted as victim blaming, you should:
- Offer support
- Be non-judgemental
- Assure the victim that the assault was not her fault
- Respect the victim's decision
You should be supportive and educated about the services available to victims of sexual assault. Keep in mind that the person who was victimized may not choose the option that you think you would take if you were sexually assaulted. Instead of trying to convince someone to take a certain path, respect the victim's decision about what path she wants to take towards healing and recovery. Everone copes differently. Remember that the victim is in the best position to decide what option is best for her.
HAVE YOU BEEN SEXUALLY ASSAULTED?
The Help Line USA, Inc.
THE HELP LINE USA, INC. is a non-profit agency committed to advocating for victims of sexual assault and preventing sexual violence in our community through public education. In helping victims of assault, their primary goal is helping family and friends regain a sense of control. In order to help achieve this goal, they try to create awareness, change attitudes, and teach personal safety to the community.
Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact or attention. It is an assault which can be caused by any force either physical or non-physical. The force can take the form of theats, bribes, manipulation, or violence. It can be verbal, visual, audio, vaginal, anal, oral, or any other form which forces the individual to participate in unwanted sexual contact or attention. Sexual assault includes rape and attempted rape in the forms of date and acquaintance rape, marital rape, and stranger rape. It also includes child molestation, voyeurism, exhibitionism, incest, and sexual harassment. Sexual assault can be committed by adults, children, males females, strangers, friends, dates, acquaintances, or relatives. Anyone can be sexually assaulted, regardless of age, sex, sexual orientation, economic, ethnic, or religious heritage.