Getting a phone call from a friend saying they’ve been assaulted is shocking, terrifying and worrisome. Receivers of the information can go into fight or flight mode after hearing the news. It’s important to remain calm—the more upset you get, the more upset your friend will become. Take a few deep breathes and open your ears. The more you know about what happened, the more helpful you will be.
Things to Understand
There are a lot of political and social complications around sexually abuse, not to mention the fear your friend is feeling after being assaulted. No two people handle sexual assault the same way, either, and there are so many different types and levels of assault. Once your friend has told you what’s happened, do some research so you can make the best decisions to help them based on their particular attack.
Get your friend to a safe place, whether it’s your house, a friend’s house, a doctor’s office or a police station. Let an adult, such as your parents, know what’s going on. It is your friend’s decision whether or not to press charges or make a report. Your friend will need a lot of time to adjust and will likely feel very threatened in certain physical spaces and scenarios that remind her of the trauma. Do your best to prevent them from being in these areas.
Once your friend is in a safe place, getting medical attention (STI test, rape kit, basic medical assessment) is something to consider. It is advised for their safety and health, but ultimately, it is up to your friend whether or not they want to see a doctor. If they report the assault to the police, enforcement will also offer a medical assessment to them.