Being a victim of an assault is never easy, especially with the stigma that comes afterward. And while society habitually blames the victim and not the perpetrator, it is imperative to show support to anyone, friend or not, who has been physically or sexually assaulted.
A lot of people may not necessarily know how to go about with this, so we’re highlighting exactly how you can support an assaulted friend.
Validate their emotions
Survivors of sexual or physical abuse need all the validation they can get. This is because some of them feel they are at fault due to society’s stigma. However, as a friend, you can help make them feel better. This is why you should encourage them, listen to their stories, validate their feelings, and be emotionally present for them during this trying period.
Offer guidance when reporting to the authorities
A lot of assault victims prefer playing the silence card rather than going to the authorities, usually because of the related emotional, medical, and legal costs. As the victim’s friend, you can introduce them to some organizations centered on helping victims of assault so you and your friend can work toward getting justice. You can be at the forefront or act as a representative. All the legal battles, press hearings, medical checkups, and other meetings can be overwhelming for someone who’s already emotionally broken.
Check-in with them
Your friend may say they’re okay and want to be alone, but try to be there for them. Check-in, drop messages, or bring comfort food whenever you can. Withdrawal is typical in these cases, but you can help them feel better. Introduce them to self-care measures like yoga, meditation, exercise, and others to help them get back on their feet. While doing all this, do not hurry their emotional progress. Give them time to heal and grow. Remember, the traumatic scars of assault will always be part of them. Only they can move past it.
It is also important not to pass judgment at this time, or perhaps at any other time for that matter. It is crucial to understand that their mental state is vulnerable at the moment. Make an effort to simply there for them and act as a strong wall of support.