When supporting someone who has experienced rape, sexual abuse or exploitation it is very important that you also take care of yourself. Doing this will likely mean that you can be more helpful and whilst we recognise that this may not always be easy, there are some key things that you can do which will help at this time.
Finding out that someone you care for has experienced sexual violence can be extremely upsetting and confusing. You may have difficulty understanding what has happened. You may have many questions and want to do your best to help the survivor. The most important thing to know is that the person responsible for the abuse is the perpetrator. It is never the survivors fault.
Family members, partners and friends may struggle with feelings of guilt and blame for not being able to prevent or stop the abuse, even if they were not around at the time. Such feelings are common, as are feelings of anger, frustration and grief. Remember, that whatever you are feeling as a supporter that this is valid and real. Getting support with these feelings is vital in ensuring that you can appropriately support the survivor. Survivors are experiencing their own emotions as a result of what has happened and it is important that any further distress about the impact on family members or partners is minimised.
Some family members and partners can be significantly affected by what they hear. This is sometimes known as vicarious or secondary trauma. Support and information is available. You can contact us to speak with a support worker. You may wish to meet with a worker face to face or access our resource library which has a range of literature available. RASAC P&K also run regular family support groups which can be beneficial in helping you to identify and manage your own emotions.
Remember that you are an important person. It may be difficult, but in some circumstances, you may be unable to support your family member or partner. Recognising your own limitations and seeking support for yourself is important.
Try to find an outlet for your own feelings. For some this may be through physical activity, such as exercise. For others it may be to speak to a close friend or rape crisis worker. Remember that ignoring your own feelings will not be beneficial to a survivor.
If you feel you might like support at RASAC this is how we could support you;
One to one support – We can offer 6 sessions of support either face to face, on the telephone on a one on one basis with a support worker. You can contact us for a referral form on Business Line: 01738 630965; Mondays-Friday, 9pm -4pm.
To refer yourself or a loved one to our therapeutic service download a referral form here.
Helpline – Our helpline is open Monday 10-12, Wednesday 12-2 and Friday 2-4. Someone will always be available during these times to give you support over the telephone. Out with these times you can leave a message with your details and someone will always get back to you.
- RASAC P&K Helpline – 01738 630965
- Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline – 6pm-Midnight, 08088 01 03 02
How you can support your friend/loved one…
When a friend or someone you love tells you that they have been abused/assaulted/raped you can often feel helpless. But think about the times in your own life when you have faced some sort of crisis or upset, and remember what helped you most then. It probably wasn’t any one thing -simply knowing that your friends loved ones believed you, were on your side, and wanted to see you through. That is how you can help now. You can be a good support if you:
- Listen to your friend/loved one
- Accept and don’t judge
- Reassure them that you won’t tell anyone else (unless a child is at serious risk of harm)
- Be patient with your friend/loved one