What To Say When Someone Tells You They Were Sexually Assaulted

It is hard to know what to say when someone you are close to tells you they were sexually violated. Your response at that time can make a difference. Here are some thoughts to consider:

  1. Don’t judge. Survivors make an outcry when they are psychologically ready to do so. You should not press for details if they are unwilling to share. It is important to say “it’s not your fault.” They may feel ashamed, concerned that they won’t be believed, or worried they’ll be blamed. Leave any “why” questions or investigations to the experts—your job is to provide support.  Let the survivor control the narrative.


  1. Be Affirmative. Acknowledge the trauma. Say the words “I believe you.” or “You can trust me.” Survivors often blame themselves even if they know the perpetrator. Words matter.


  1. Offer Help. Part of victimization is feeling helpless. Offer to accompany them to a Rape Crisis Center or go with them to report to law enforcement. The survivor might also need help seeking medical or counseling even if the event happened a while ago.


  1. Continue to care. Check in with the survivor to remind them you still care about their well-being and believe their story.


  1. Seek out resources. Become familiar with resources in your community (local Rape crisis centers) or on-line resources you can recommend such as the National Sexual Assault Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673) and org.


The Law Office of Tahira Khan Merritt exclusively represents victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault. We stand ready to help you with your legal needs. If you were sexually assaulted or sexually abused, our law firm can help explain your legal remedies.  For almost twenty years, we have represented victims of sex crimes in civil cases against institutions, including colleges and universities, religious organizations, such as the Catholic church, Baptist church, Greek Orthodox church, Episcopal Church, and Presbyterian church among others. We have also represented victims of sexual abuse in schools,  youth sports organizations,  youth camps, daycares, scouting and the like. You may confidentially contact our office at 214-503-7300 or through our website :

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