Information and resources for friends of a survivor

If someone you know has told you that she was raped or sexually assaulted, the most important thing you can do is listen to her and believe what she says.

Supporting a survivor can be difficult, even overwhelming at times. If a survivor has confided in you but no-one else, or has few other sources of support, it is easy to feel as though you are responsible for her well-being but please remember this isn’t the case.

Her healing is in her hands. She has been incredibly strong to survive so far, so there is every reason to believe that she has the emotional resources and resilience to face the future.

Also, you can’t support her single-handedly, at the very least you must have your own source of support.

Remember you are not a miracle worker. The best you can do is let her know that you care about her and are there if she wants to talk.

Getting support

Our helpline, email and live chat support services offer confidential emotional support for women and girls who are supporting a female survivor.

The Rape Crisis England and Wales 24/7 Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Line offers emotional support for anyone aged 16+ in England and Wales who is supporting a survivor of sexual violence.

Safeline runs the National Male Survivor Helpline which offers emotional support for men who are supporting a survivor.

Family and friends guide

This guide is for family and friends supporting a person who has been raped or sexually assaulted, recently or in the past.

Information and contacts

How you can support your friend


Believe what she tells you.

Women and girls very rarely lie about sexual violence and if she senses disbelief from someone she trusts, she might never tell anyone again.

Let her say what she needs to say in her own time and her own words.

It takes a great deal of strength and courage to both survive and to talk about sexual violence. Acknowledge that.

Help her to make her own choices.

Explore options with her. An important part of dealing with the powerlessness of sexual violence is learning to feel in control again, so try not to do anything which takes control away from her.

Take your needs seriously and seek your own support.


Doubt what she tells you about what happened

It may be difficult to believe that such a terrible thing has been done to your friend, especially if you know the perpetrator, but the truth is that it’s extremely rare for women and girls to lie about sexual violence.

Trivialise or dismiss her feelings or what happened to her.

It may be easy to compare it to something worse, perhaps that someone else has experienced, but saying things like “It could be worse, it’s not as bad as…” is never helpful. Recognise the pain she’s going through.

Expect her to react in a certain way.

Everyone deals with the impacts of sexual violence differently and at their own pace. Recovery is not a linear process either. Even if you have been through a similar experience, remember that everyone copes in their own unique way.