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I think my friend has been sexually assaulted or raped. How can I help?

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), one of the biggest things you can do for a friend or loved one who has been sexually assaulted or raped is to just listen and be there, without being judgmental or offering advice.

It can take time for someone to deal with a sexual assault or rape, and there’s no one correct way for anyone to react. Rape and sexual assault are acts that take power away from someone, so it’s important that you not pressure your friend or loved one into doing something they’re not yet ready to do. It’s important that the person who experienced the sexual assault gets to have a say in how their healing process goes.

You can encourage your friend to talk to a trusted adult about what happened. You can also let your friend know that there is help available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

It’s also important that you take care of yourself when you’re trying to be there for a friend who has been sexually assaulted or raped. Hearing about sexual assault and rape, even if it didn’t happen directly to you, can bring up lots of thoughts and emotions for anyone. For more information on reactions you might experience and how you can take care of yourself while helping a friend, check out this information about self-care from RAINN. This can help you continue to be a source of support for your friend or loved one.

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