Advice for loved ones of survivors

Good types of support are:
Remain calm no matter how much rage you might have, because expressing these emotions to the victim may cause the victim more trauma.

Encourage the victim to receive medical attention, even if they don’t report it to the police the victim is entitled to a free medical exam which can provide preventative medicine for various issues as well as indicating any type of internal injuries.

Give the victim back control. Control to determine the next step, especially since control was taken from the victim through the assault.
Let the victim express feelings when they need to, without your opinion. If they choose to remain silent, just let them know you will be there for them and ready to listen when they are ready to talk.
When and if they do talk it is very important to maintain confidentiality. It is up to the victim to decide who they want to know about the assault. If you break their trust this can be very detrimental to your relationship.

BELIEVE the victim and let them know that it was not their fault!
Encourage counseling. Let them know that we as individuals are not “wired” on how to deal with rape by ourselves and to seek help from professionals who are.

Seek counseling for yourself in order to address the feelings you have without bombarding the victim right now. The victim needs to concentrate on getting themselves better before worrying about everyone else. Then after time with counseling you can decide when and what to discuss with the victim, if you feel it is even necessary at that point.
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121 thoughts on “Advice for loved ones of survivors”

  1. Hi, I found out my beautiful, amazing fiancee was raped a few years ago..She never reported it for fear that no one would believe her and the hard time that would come with that..She saw him after years again and they had no contact. She had told me what happened a long time ago but now with what happened..The thought that he got away..No justice..It sickens me and the thought of her suffering bring me pain..I don’t know what to do or how to handle this anger/sadness I feel..I want to erase this from her mind..from mine.I don’t know what to do..any help will be appreciated. Thank you for your time and God bless all of you with similar dealings.

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    1. M. As much as we want it erased we can’t. All we can do is learn to deal with it and that happens through counseling, for her or you or both. That being said you can’t make her go unless she wants to. If you try to force the issue it could push her away. So if anything you can get counseling on how to approach and deal with the situation in a way that will help you both. Whatever you do, don’t act like it never happened, always be empathetic and her rock. That doesn’t mean bring it up or try to get her to talk it just means listen and try to understand where she is coming from instead of shoving it under the rug. You may want to take a self defense class with her to help bring her confidence back so she not only will feel like she can protect herself going forward but also shows her you want to protect her as well. Also, if she sees you going to counseling she might choose to get counseling as well, but no pressure on her. Hope this helps! Stay strong! Lynn

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  2. My 13 yr old daughter was raped over a month ago and my wife and I just found out about it, she had never had intercourse or sexual acitiivity prior to this incident. My daughter had to be Baker Acted the night she told us because she wanted to kill herself. We have her back home now after 5 days in the medical facility and have scheduled a examination with a rape trauma center.
    My question is our daughter said she went back to this person’s house after the first time he raped her, the person is 16 and lives 1/2 block away. She sneaked out of her bedroom window both times in the middle of the night and walked to the person’s house around the corner of our street.
    This detail is disturbing and when asked “Why” she said she wanted to have sex and he did not rape her.
    Question: Is this typical or some type of coping mechanism in her thought process to mitigate the first time when she said she was raped?
    How as parents do we help her aside from seeing a medical professionals for couseling?

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    1. D. At an age so young and being that she had never had sexual relations before she is/was very confused and probably can’t fully or doesn’t want to fully comprehend what happened to her. Depending on how it happened, how traumatizing or not, if she had a crush on this person, had she ever thought about having sex all comes into play. That being said, none of those emotions deserves her to be raped. There is absolutely no excuse for rape period. With her being so naive and vulnerable at her age I’m positive she didn’t want to accept it. So it isn’t uncommon to pretend that it wasn’t rape because again she had never experienced sex let alone rape. She might know right and wrong but this brought up emotions she had never experienced before. So it is easier to “think” it wasn’t rape and “see” if there was something good there, than to admit it was in fact rape. Let alone accept her first experience was a sexual assault and having to live with that the rest of her life. Going forward she needs to know what a loving relationship/sexual experience should be like, and this will take time especially because of her age and the only thing she knows is the rape. The best thing you can do is don’t judge, don’t question and support her as best you can. If she wants to talk, listen but try your best not to question. If she wants to tell you she will. Also, don’t ever act like it didn’t happen, so when she needs the support she knows she can come to you without it being swept under the rug. The more we let it out through tears and talking the more room we have to heal. That being said she should be talking to a counselor more than you, because they are able to help the situation more without more emotions being brought into the picture by loved ones that she feels now she has more to deal with. So listen, be her rock and don’t judge and get the proper counseling and you will all be able to move forward. Stay strong! Lynn

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  3. My mom was raped, by someone she knows. We have gone to the police who are doing a whole lot of nothing. But I can’t shake how I feel. When she told me yesterday that the police aren’t going to do anything (despite all the evidence we brought in) I lost it. I don’t cry in public but I cried yesterday at school (cosmetology school) and couldn’t face the crowds today. I can’t even have my boyfriend snuggle with me. I’m shying away from people and touch and I feel like I have no right to because it wasn’t me. What do I do? How can I help her if I can’t even hold myself together.

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    1. C. I’m sorry you are not getting the help you need from the police, I understand how frustrating that can be. The most important thing for your mother and possible you is to get counseling. This will help you both deal with everything you are going through. It is very new and very raw but the quicker you get into counseling the quicker the healing process starts, I would also recommend taking a self defense class for you both which will help with your sense of fear. You need to try and be your mothers rock. She told you for a reason to help her and if she feels that she worsened the situation by telling you then she is going to be more worried about you than her own recovery. I know this hit close to home because it was your mom but she really needs you right now. So try to get counseling. You can’t force her though if she is not ready but maybe if she sees you getting help she will too. Stay strong! Lynn

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  4. my girlfriend was just raped on saturday past mid night idk what to do the bastard came inside of her twice . thing is he had already abused of her sevral months back she didnt want to do anything cus the guys has a little boy. but now this ….. its the same thing only now its that she might be pregnate and its killing me i know its killing her too . im just full of rage disapointment saddness and confused. we are engaged but idk if we should still be together because she knowing that the guy had her once before she called him for a ride …. thinking things had changed . shes naive and never holds a grudge .. but i cant take it im going crazy i want to take matters into my own hands what should i do tho should i stay with her or not ? she delibratlly put her self there those two times and it has made me think that she did it on purpous the first time im lost later today im going to talk to her dad and her mom. i know its probly the wrong timing but i also know that if its not done that ass hole will get away with it again. pls help any tip would be great tbh i dont know who to talk to because i love this girl yeah she screwed me over but still she did not deserve that. i already called the guy out and let him know this time there will be consiquences i also told his mom and dad see if he feels ashamed when they ask him about it. me and my gf need counsling i know that for sure her to help her get over the truma and me so i wont end up doing something that can affect my life for ever….

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    1. Sec. I understand your frustration and feelings however the worst thing you can do is “take it into your own hands”. The best thing you can do is exactly what you said, both of you get some counseling, however it needs to be separately. After separate counseling (possibly by the same person) then maybe if you both agree you can do some together. I also don’t think you should have gone to her parents because that is something she should do when she is ready own her own. Let me explain why. When a rape happens we need all the strength (which isn’t much) to help ourselves. When you bring other people that you aren’t ready to tell into the mix, now we don’t concentrate on ourselves anymore but instead worry more about what they think and dealing with their reaction which typically adds more emotion on top of emotion and we get lost. Now it is all about controlling you and their feelings and worrying about everyone else. this is the worst thing because it is a major step back in our healing process. This is about us and our attacker, the only roll you should be taking when you are around the victim is being our rock through empathy. That being said I realize it is VERY hard especially when you know the person. And again your feelings are completely understandable and common. The difference is you must deal with your feelings away from her and not pressure her. which again is where the counseling come into play. Through counseling then you can decide what the best way to handle the situation is for you. You can NOT pressure her into counseling as it will do no good unless she is ready. But only when she can get her head together then she needs to deal with the people around her. But she must make whatever decision it is on her own and hopefully you can support that. It is very difficult but remember she is the first victim here that needs to be taken care of then you can deal with the rest BUT NOT by taking matter into your own hands via the attacker. Two wrongs don’t make a right. If anything let the police do it but again that is her call, not yours. Stay strong! Lynn

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  5. i figured that out and havent said anything, im trying to be there for her as best as i can . and have adviced her to get counsling but she keeps insisting shes fine and doesnt need it and i try not to push it. truth is she had cheated on me with that person he tricked her and she gave in . this time she was submisivly raped . so it sucks she wont report him even tho the guy said he would be back how am i supost to deal with that . shes 17 and the guy is 27 . idk how to take this and its not like i can leave her eaither. so far things have been going down the drain were both stubborn and cant really let things go . we still trying to have healthy relationship we had built after her betrayle and before her rape. i dont take well to lies and thats what she did said she was eating with one of her girl friends but she was with him. tbh i cant trust her anymore at least not now . but im still trying to help and when i notice im only giving her more stress i apolagize and back off. dont know if im stupid or just in love with her

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    1. SEC Because rape is all about control, it is obvious he has control over her and unfortunately she is not recognizing that. Again I don’t know the entire situation but if you are telling me she is “still seeing him” referring to lying to you about lunch then I personally would back off and give her time to see what is really going on. If she is rejecting help and lying to you but still seeing him, that raises a very big red flag to me. Mainly because this has happened more than once and I understand when rape happens again sometimes because of control HOWEVER it is very unusual for her to put herself back into a situation of spending time with him. Typically if it happens more than once it is totally the rapists doing, trickery, etc without knowledge from the victim or threats of harm. If she is having lunch with him (after all the rapes) and lying to you it tells me she is not scared of him and why would she lie about it? Again you can’t control her only you, so I would give her time and tell her you are confused, you have tried to help with no avail. If she is threatened by him or scared then she should stay away and you are there to help protect her and move forward, otherwise it’s up to her. Stay strong! Lynn

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  6. So…um, hey, i guess. I just came onto this website because my girlfriend was raped on either January 6th or 7th. And now she says that shes pregnant. Although this is kind of a long distance relationship (i live in ohio, she lives in new york) so i dont even know if she cheated on me. she doesnt seem like the type of girl to do that, but you never know, right? but anyways, she says shes pregnant. now her and i have talked about this multiple times about what we should do. if she should get an abortion, put the kid up for adoption, or try to raise him or her ourselves. but im not too sure about that. i mean dont get me wrong, id love to have a child with her and also be the father of this kid, but i cant get over the fact of how this child was made. rape. and ive told her that she should go to a therapist or counselor and i made her agree to go at least just once, and ive told her about this website too. but since its a long distance relationship, i cant really make sure she does. im just really mad and furious at the guy who raped her, but im also worried and scared about what we’re going to do with this kid, and if itll happen again. i just dont know what to do anymore. any ideas?

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    1. J. Well it really is up to her. I think it’s great that you want to stand by her, but it is ultimately her decision. So whatever it is you need to respect it. My best advice is for her to go to counseling to help her determine what is best for her going forward. Because she not only needs counseling for the rape but also counseling about the baby. That being said you can’t make her go, she has to be ready. But maybe if you explain that the counseling can help with her healing as well as the best thing for the baby and for your relationship she will go. You might even want to go yourself to help you determine whats best for you. Stay strong! Lynn

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  7. Can people help me understand. My wife was in a very difficult situation with a co worker. He had sex with her multiple times. She even went to his house on her lunch break and he raped her then too. I need help understanding how the mind works to let something go on for a month until you finally do something about it. I’m jusy confused because in this whole month that it was happening she seemed happy to me and the 2 were constantly texting yet. I know she was scared during it all and didn’t come to me because I never like him or the friendship to begin with and she knew that and was trying to show me that she can have guy friends, so she was embarrassed that I was right and that she thought I’d leave her. I just want input on how to understand this on how she would continue to let it go on for a whole month? Lost, confused, and sad for her.

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    1. JT. Honestly, I can’t explain this to you I’m sorry. She isn’t showing the signs of being raped and scared to me. Is this a boss that can take her job away? That is the only explanation I can see for it happening for a month and going to his house at lunch. Either he threatened her, her job, you, something, that is the only explanation I can think of. However I can explain that rape is about control and when a rapist doesn’t get called out then they feel they are still in control. when this happens it is very likely it will happen again whether or not with the same person because they feel they can get away with it. Does she want to turn him into the police? She can’t just let him get away with it. Hopefully she has evidence. Have you asked to see her texts, I would. Might be some evidence you can use. Just some thoughts. Stay strong!

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  8. Hi,
    My one friend has been raped by her boyfriend one year ago. I come to know about this two month ago.and she is still continuing with same guy. I told her to leave that guy, coz sometime he also used to assault her when she talk to me or other. But she doesnt want to leave him. I am wandering whether she is destroying her life or she is still in some problem. I am not getting how to get her away from that guy.

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    1. A. Unfortunately I see this sometimes. It can be due to several things. Just so you know rape is about control and this guy obviously has control over your friend whether it is an emotional or physical control or both. Men like that deplete a person self confidence, make them feel unworthy of anyone else because of what they have been through. It is extremely difficult to break those chains when someone has control over you. It’s almost the same as being abused and they can’t leave because they don’t know how and the person in control fills their minds with all the reasons why they can’t and possibly threats. Your friend has to want to leave and feel like she can safely. Maybe you could discuss a safety plan with her. She can start putting a plan into motion and put a safety plan together and then save some money, get a safe place to go and when the time is right get outta there. Let her know you will help her as best you can. Maybe even get a stun gun for her protection after she leaves. But she needs to go somewhere he can’t trace her and she would need a new cell phone too. Hope that helps! Lynn

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  9. Is it normal for a sexual abuse counselor to recommend the rape victim be allowed to reside In the same home as their rapist? My son raped his sister and my ex husband is actually trying to get a judge to allow him to have custody of her even though my son lives in the same home……

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    1. Corinna, No and I would make it very clear to the judge of what happened. If your ex-husband knows this and is still trying to get her to live with him then that is a HUGE red flag also on your ex-husband. He obviously is not thinking about what is best for his daughter so to me that seems there is another motive. Lynn

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  10. So my girlfriend was raped in early January, before the 10th. I found out about two weeks after it had happened. On Christmas day though she was ALMOST raped by the same guy. A couple days after that she said multiple times that she was having nightmares about what almost happened and also thought she was being stalked by this guy. I took her seriously and always told her to never go out alone and if she’s ever home alone to hide, and she did until one day. She went out alone to get food since nobody else really wanted to leave the house and that’s the day she got raped by this guy.  She was planning on abstaining until marriage, so this was her first time. I can’t imagine how much pain she must’ve been in. She eventually got him off of her after an hour or two and he had already well…done it inside of her 3 times she said. She ran straight home. She texted me the day it happened and said that he had only beaten and hit her, which I sort of didn’t believe but chose to accept as the truth. I later found out she was raped after she let it slip that she had morning sickness and intense cravings, and I asked her if she was pregnant or something jokingly and she said that she was getting an ultrasound the next day actually (she was really tired and not paying attention to what she was saying). After that I put two and two together and she admitted that she was raped.  (she tested negative and they didnt find anything on the ultrasound, which is good i guess. We’re too young to have a kid/s). Late last week she also said that the nightmares about getting raped have started back up. And that’s about it for that part. I’m just worried and scared out of my mind, I can’t stop thinking about what happened to her. And if I’m like this, I can’t imagine what she’s like every night and day because she bottles literally everything up: things that happen, her emotions about said things, just everything. Our relationship is long distance, I live in Ohio, she lives in New York. She said she’s moving down here during the summer to stay with her aunt (as far as I know for the next school year at least) so I was planning on making her go to the hospital to get checked for STDs and to try and convince her to go to counseling and to maybe try and get her to tell somebody else what happened, somebody who can help. Like I said earlier, my mind is in pieces and to be honest I don’t know what she’s like because she bottles so many things up. I’m just worried and scared our of my mind. And I don’t know if this will help or not, but she’s 18 and I’m 15. Kind of a wierd age gap for young people like us, but we love each other very much. I just need some advice or wisdom or just something, anything, that can help

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    1. J. You are doing the right thing to suggest to her the counseling & tested for std’s BUT you can’t force her because she has to do it when she is ready otherwise its pointless. Do you know if she has confided in anyone other than you? Hopefully she has because she needs someone in NY to be able to help since you aren’t there. I also think it’s good that she is coming to Ohio so she can get away for a bit and hopefully that will help her. The only real thing I can tell you is that you can only support her right now in whatever her decisions are. Hopefully she will come around to counseling because they are the ones that can truly help her deal, all you can do is offer your support. I know that doesn’t help much but trust me support means A LOT to a rape survivor. Stay strong! Lynn

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  11. hello there I am 30 yrs old I experiance rape when I am 6 or 7 years old I never had sex after that ……I am not sure whether I am virgin or not and ma problem is I always afraid and try to avoid the guys when they ask me for sex ……but yhe truth is I want a relationship and marriage but I can’t …..tell me what to do about it.
    hoping to here from u
    f

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    1. F. I’m so sorry to hear that this has affected you this long. I realize at such a young age how this has influenced you but I really want you to be able to live a happy life again and get everything you want. I’m not sure if you ever went to counseling either as a child or an adult but it is very clear that you need it now. You need it for you and your future of a family. It isn’t easy and it’s not gonna change you over night because you have years that need to be addressed. But you are worthy of a wonderful life but you are gonna have to put the work in through professional counseling. I had one of the best relationships of my entire life after my rape and cherish it to this day. It’s an amazing thing to know someone can love you, knowing your past and be there for you and be your rock. You don’t have to carry the burden yourself and actually that burden somehow becomes the glue that keeps you together and makes you love more and stronger. BUT you have to believe in what you want your future to be like and step out of the past. You have to push yourself even if it’s baby steps. Focus on what you want and do something everyday to help get there. Therapy will help you achieve this, I promise. Stay strong! Lynn

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