Sometimes the first person a survivor of a sexual assault will turn to is a friend. You are an important person to the survivor, someone this person trusts and values. Knowing how to respond will help your friend recover and help you cope with the position you are in now.
This is often in the moment one of the most powerful things you can do for your friend. Everyone has a different reaction: some will want to talk, some may feel like they are not ready to yet. Let your friend know that you will be ready whenever they are.
Respect the survivor’s need for privacy. Be sure to tell your friend before they start sharing if you have a role at Tufts that prevents you from being confidential (eg. Resident Assistants). Tell the person that you want to support them, and this support may involve sharing information with people who can help.
The fear of not being believed is a strong deterrent for survivors of sexual assault. Reaffirm that trust by telling and showing your friend that you believe them.
Sexual assault is all about taking away the power from a person. Respecting a survivor’s choices is one way of allowing them to take back control of their own life. Instead of offering advice, ask how you can support them. Then support their decisions, even if you do not necessarily agree.