For relatives, friends and caregivers
Sexual violence is always an assault to body and soul of the affected person. Rape is the worst form of sexual violence. The affected woman/girl feels exposed to the perpetrator. She feels helpless and powerless.
The affected person is in shock, even if you cannot always see that from the outside. Each woman reacts differently:
- Some seem calm and composed.
- Some are restless and cannot sleep.
- Some seem petrified.
- Some talk about what they experienced, others cannot and don’t want to talk about it.
Please respect that!
Please do not take any actions which the woman doesn’t want!
Each woman can only deal with the experienced violence in her own way. There are no rules for that.
This is how you can help:
- Give the woman time to decide what it is that helps her.
- Accept it, if she doesn’t want to talk (with you).
- Encourage her to seek and accept help (e.g., in a counselling centre or from a doctor).
These reactions don’t help:
- Doubting if she is telling the truth (e.g. “He surely didn’t do anything like that.“)
- Accusations (e.g. “You shouldn’t have gone with him.”)
- Not taking her seriously (e.g. “Just forget it quickly.”)
- “dump” your own feelings on the affected woman (e.g., anger, helplessness, sadness, feelings of revenge, fear, …)
- Taking actions behind her back (e.g., going to the police, talking to the perpetrator, …)
Here you can find further information, e.g. concerning how you as a helper can cope with the stress/burden.