7 Ways NOT To React When Your Friend Is Raped

7 Ways NOT To React When Your Friend Is Raped

Things people often do that are actually hurtful, not helpful.
1299
views

Having your friend come out to you as a rape survivor can be a mess, for them and for you. As a survivor myself, I've often been asked "what do I do when someone close to me tells me they've been raped?" However, I realized that I could give more advice on the things people do wrong instead of how to do it right (because it's really, really easy to get it right). So, here it is, my step by step guide on what NOT to do.

1. Don’t ask them stupid questions

For example: How did it start? Did you like him at first? Does he know he raped you? Are you going to talk to him about it? Why didn’t you tell me sooner?

Or the classic: What were you wearing?

None of these questions are at all important or relevant. What’s important is what your friend just told you. That’s all.

Try asking questions like these: Are you safe now? Do you need to go to the hospital/police station, and would you like me to go with you? Do you need help telling anyone else? Where do you need to be where you feel safe?

2. Don't talk about the rapist

Saying things like, “Wow, I never thought Billy Bob would have done something like this. He was always so nice and funny, I remember this one time when I was hanging out with him and…” not only totally dismisses what your friend just told you but also it makes everything about the rapist and how surprising it is that he did it, and not about the victim and how much help she will need to get through it.

Try this: don’t say anything about the rapist. At all. You don’t even need to ask who it was, if that information wasn’t already offered. That’s not important. What’s important is for you to be there for your friend.

3. Don't go telling anyone

You aren’t in the right to tell anyone that your friend is a survivor. Ever. This is not your story to tell. Do not assume that they would “want people to know” and do not take it upon yourself to spread the news. This is how false rumors get started, and rumors about being raped lead to victim blaming and shaming.

Try this: ask your friend who she has told, and if she would like to tell anyone else. Always reassure your friend that you will not tell anybody, and that their personal information is safe with you, and that you'll help her tell somebody if she needs you to.

4. Don't treat her like she's damaged goods

She’s a human who’s been raped, not a toaster that’s been underwater. My point is, SHE STILL WORKS! She isn’t broken. Don’t exclude her from plans or pretend like she isn’t there. Don’t purposefully stop having fun when she walks in the room. Don’t act like she no longer is a functioning human being who still has feelings and a life.

Try this: always invite her to the fun outings you would normally take her to, keep having that fun conversation when she walks in the room, and never ever ignore her. It’s really that simple.

5. On the other hand, don't act like nothing ever happened

Like I said, she still works. But that doesn’t mean she will be the same person she was before she was raped. As much as I hate to admit it, becoming a survivor changes who you are one way or another, and usually that change is painful and will negatively affect her first. Don’t get mad at her when she turns down those invitations. Don’t assume that everything will go back to normal after a few days. And don’t, under any circumstances, ever say something like “you’ve been sad for so long, why don’t you just, I don’t know, forget about it?”

Try this: Allow her to be sad, to be angry, to be confused. Validate her feelings by asking her what she needs and telling her that you will be there through all of the roller coaster that she is on, and you’ll still be there when she’s come out the other side.

6. Don't make it all about YOU

“You never want to hang out with me anymore.” “I feel like I can’t be sad around you.” “Do you not want to be my friend?” “Why aren’t you ever there for me when I need it?” “Am I a bad friend to you?” All of these responses make everything about you, the friend, and not her, the victim. Don’t take anything that happens personally—her reaction to what happened is just that, hers, so don’t take that away from her.

Try this: When you feel like you want your old friend back, don’t accuse her of neglecting your friendship, but just remind her that you love her, and tell her you know that this doesn’t define who she is—that you believe in her ability to get through this.

7. Don't ever, ever blame her.

I saved this one for last because, while it’s the most obvious, it’s also the MOST common. If you blame her, then you’ve just done the absolute worst thing you could do to a victim of rape, and you’ve made her worst fears come true. And if you just flat out told her don’t believe her, well, screw you.

Here’s your step by step guide for what you should say to your friend after she tells you she’s been raped:

First: Acknowledge what she’s said. “Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me that.”

Second: Recognize how hard that was for her to say it. “You are so brave for confiding in me, and I’m so proud of you.”

Third: Tell her you believe her. “I believe you.”

Fourth: Remind her that you love her. “I’m so glad that you survived that, and that you are surviving it right now. I’m happy that you are so strong, and so grateful that you’re my friend.”

Last: Let her tell you what she needs. “Tell me what you need, if you know what that is. I will give you my unconditional love and support, and I will help you in whatever way I can.”

Then, obviously, hug it out.

*Disclaimer: I referred to the survivor as "she" and the perpetrator as "he" for ease of writing this article in a non-confusing way. In no way am I saying that men do not get raped, or that women can't raped. However, it's usually the man who rapes the woman, so I used the pronouns that fit.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

Popular Right Now

8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
64141
views

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

An Open Letter To The Friend Who Continues To Save My Life

No one knows me like you do.

128
views

From the day we became friends, we have always had nothing but support for one another. Although we have only really been friends for about seven years now, I feel as if you have always been a part of my life. You know me just as well as you know yourself, and I understand you in the same way I understand my own thoughts and feelings.

You have never made me feel pressured, insecure, or unappreciated. The mutual respect we have for one another is unmatched. We can talk to each other about anything; from some of the most trivial topics to entire life philosophies. We have grown and matured together, and I couldn't be more proud of the person you are today.

We don't always agree on everything, and I always appreciate your fresh point of view, but I have never felt more in sync with another person than I do with you. We share the same birth month, the same age, the same home town, the same anxieties, and many of the same attitudes and values.

I feel as if you know exactly when I want to be alone and when I need company. Since we are both introverted, we understand that the other person needs time to recharge. And when I'm sitting alone with nothing to do, I always get a text from you asking to hang out.

In some of my loneliest, most vulnerable moments, you have been there. When I question how many true friends I really have, you are always sure to make your love for me known.

Through high school, and now college, we have experienced so many life-changing events together. Some that have taught us extremely valuable lessons, and others that have shown us incredible pain and how to grow from our lowest moments.

I want to thank you for showing me what life-long friendship looks like. Thank you for always understanding me and never putting too much pressure on me. I see an incredible future for both of us no matter where each of our lives takes us.

We will always share a unique connection that cannot be separated by any distance. But, for now, I'm glad you're only one text or phone call away.

Related Content

Facebook Comments