Supporting someone after sexual violence

After a non-consensual sexual experience, it is good for the victim to know someone is there for them. Your support can make a big difference. Read more about what you can do if someone in your life has had a non-consensual sexual experience.

What is your loved one's situation?

Did the non-consensual sexual experience happen in the past week or was it longer ago? Each situation requires a different approach to provide the best level of help. Read more about the various situations on the following pages and see the tips to support your loved one in the right way.

Ten tips

1. Listen attentively

Let the other person know you are there for them and listen attentively. Many victims are scared of not being believed, making it harder for them to share their story. Even if you don’t know what to say, listening is often enough.

2. Support your loved one

You may have questions for your loved one. Those questions could trigger unwanted feelings in the victim or even come across as accusatory. Try to be there for them and offer support. Accept it if they do not want to tell you everything (right away).

3. Be aware of emotions

Some victims are angry, and others are extremely sad. Everyone responds differently. Whatever emotions your loved one is feeling, remember they are allowed to exist, even if you have trouble dealing with them.

4. Ask questions about touching

Sometimes, people who have experienced sexual violence would rather not be touched for a while. A well-intentioned kiss or hug could trigger unwanted memories in the initial period after the incident. Carefully ask if it is okay for you to touch them or let the other person take the initiative.

5. Ask your partner what they desire

It can be difficult to have sex after a non-consensual sexual experience. If you are in a romantic relationship with the victim, do not pressure them into having intercourse. Ask your partner what they desire in terms of sexuality and intimacy.

6. Offer practical help

Can I go grocery shopping for you? Shall I go with you to the appointment? A victim could find practical help very helpful. So, ask them if you can do anything for them.

7. Respect their choices

A person who has been a victim of sexual violence faces a number of choices. To report it to the police or not? To get psychological help or not? It is important they are given good information and that they can make their own decisions at their own pace.

8. Do not go telling other people

Let your loved one decide who is and who is not allowed to know what happened. Do not tell their story to other people without consent.

9. Be patient

It can take a lot of time to process a non-consensual sexual experience. You can help by being patient and keep listening.

10. Do not forget yourself!

You may be extremely angry at the perpetrator or feel guilty that you were unable to prevent the other’s non-consensual sexual experience. You too need to be able to get these feelings off your chest. It is important that you find someone else you can talk to. Tell your loved one that you too are seeking help from others.

Always at hand. 
Put 0800-0188 in your mobile phone!

'Since a friend of mine was raped, I have this number in my mobile phone by default' – Danique

Watch our vlogs

  • For parents – What can you do to support your child? – View our vlogs
  • For primary school teachers – What can you do to help your pupil?- View our vlogs
  • For secondary school teachers – What can you do to help your pupil? – View our vlogs

How do I get in touch?

If you need immediate help, have any doubts or are plagued with questions, you can always call or chat with us anonymously and for free or you can fill in the contact form. During office hours, you can only call us for help within seven days of the incident. If you need help after seven days, you can fill in the contact form.