Anyone Can Experience Sexual Assault
Sexual assault can happen to a college woman, but it can also happen to a college man, adult woman, adult man, a person who is transgender, an elder, etc. Sexual assault does not discriminate. There is not just one type of person who is vulnerable to sexual assault.
Give Support Not Advice
The most important part of a person’s healing is feeling supported. Allow them to make decisions for themselves. Remind them that any decision they make is supported. This can give them a sense of control.
Be an open listener when they want to talk. If they decide not to talk, let them know you are there to listen when they are ready to talk. Do not question them about what happened. Let them tell you what they are comfortable sharing. When they decide to speak, do not assume they are looking for advice. Sometimes people just need to be heard and supported.
Let the person disclosing their assault set the pace. Avoid bringing up the traumatic experience yourself. Do not assume they are willing to talk about their trauma because they have disclosed parts of it. It is important not to pressure them into a discussion. Though people often show support by giving physical contact it is important to give them the space they need.
People who have experienced sexual assault feel that their ability to have control of their lives has been violated. They feel a loss of control. Give power back to them by letting them know they are safe. An important part of the healing process involves them feeling empowered to make their own decisions.