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Sexual Assault & Anti-Violence Information

Help A Loved One

Maybe your loved one was raped. Maybe you're worried about the person your friend is dating. Maybe someone you know is living in a hurtful or dangerous relationship. What can you do?

  1. Believe her/his story. What you hear may be hard to listen to, but realize that it may be even more difficult to say. It takes a lot of courage to come forward and tell others about a painful experience. If someone comes to you after a sexual assault, or because he/she is in a hurtful relationship, that person has placed a tremendous amount of trust in you. The two most important responses you can offer are "I believe you" and "I'm here for you.
  2. Reassuring statements. What you say (and how you say it) makes all of the difference. Here are some things you might consider saying:
    • "You're here and that's all that matters. You didn't do anything wrong. You did a lot of things right: You survived."
    • "I don't think any less of you because of this."
    • "It was not your fault. You don't deserve this."
    • "You don't have tell me how you feel, but I'm here to listen if you want to talk."
    • "You don't have to worry about me or take care of my feelings."
    • "I may not know what it's like to be in your shoes, but I can see you're hurting."
    • "I will leave if you need to be alone."
  3. Listen. Support your loved on by being non-judgmental and resisting the urge to shower her/him with advice. Reassure your friend that you will be available to listen as needed. Don't pressure her/him to talk or give more detail then she/he is willing to share.
  4. Respect her/his decisions. The person who hurt your loved one took away her/his sense of choice and control. Anything you can do to help restore a sense of choice and control will make a big difference. Your loved one may not want to talk to police, family, or others about what happened. Your friend may not want medical, counseling, or crisis help. The decision to tell others and or to contact those who can help is a personal decision that only your loved one can make. Respect her/ his right to privacy and right to make decisions. Remember: what is right for you may not be right for someone else.

    [Note: If your loved one is under the age of 18, and has been assaulted or abused, it is required by law that a report be made.]
  5. Educate yourself. Browse through our website, check out suggested links, or read a book. Education is a powerful tool, and SAAVI can help. Visit our "Get Info" page or drop us a line at saaviinfo@aggiemail.usu.edu.