Rape Crisis


Rape & Sexual Abuse Support


We offer support & information to anyone over 13 years old who has been raped or sexually abused at any time in their life


Tel: 01224 590932

Email: info@rapecrisisgrampian.co.uk

Family, friends and Partners of Survivors

If you are supporting someone who has been raped or sexually abused, it can be painful and confusing at times. It is often difficult to know how to act or what to say.


It can take a long time for a survivor to be able to talk about what has happened to them. Some people take decades to share the abuse they have experienced. It is important for them to be listened to and believed, regardless of when the abuse happened. If they choose to talk to you, you can make it easier for them by:


Making time to listen without judging, criticising or questioning.


Not forcing them to talk. Be patient.


Reassuring them that no one has the right to rape or abuse and that every person has the right to be safe, in all circumstances.


Understanding that survivors can experience a range of different reactions and emotions. They may feel calm and controlled, or feel nothing or numb. They may feel anger, guilt or worthlessness and they may feel suicidal. These are a natural response to their experience. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way for a survivor to react – and whichever way they do react is ok.




Do . . .

Listen – to what they have to say in their own time. It might not be easy for them to start talking to someone about an event that they have kept to themselves. It may be difficult because they may have been told not to tell anyone by the abuser.


Belive – they need you to believe. People rarely lie about rape or sexual abuse. It is important to believe.


Respect – their feelings and decisions. If they start to cry let them. It can be part of their healing process.


Remember – they are not to blame. No one wants or deserves to be abused. The blame always lies with the abuser, not the survivor.


Recognise – the courage it takes for them to speak out. This must be respected and praised.


Empower – survivors who has experienced sexual violence may feel that they have no control over what is happening to them and how they are feeling. A major step towards healing is for them to regain a sense of control over their life.


Don't . . .

Pressure – Don’t put any pressure on them into talking about, or into doing things, that they are not ready for. Let them decide when they are ready. If they don’t want to talk to you, don’t take it personally. It can be incredibly difficult to begin talking, and they may find it easier to talk to someone they don’t know.


Tell them what to do – They need to be in control. You can help to explore options that are available to them.


Tell them to forget – don’t tell them to ‘forget about it and get over it’, or say “It happened a long time ago, why does it suddenly bother you now?” Healing can take a long time and some people block out or try to forget traumatic events as a way of coping. Remembering can be triggered by events such as marriage, changing job, the birth of a baby, starting a new relationship, or even smells, colours or sounds.


Ask them why they didn’t fight back – people can freeze when confronted with a terrifying situation. Also, it can be the safest thing not to fight back. They have nothing to justify to anyone. (See the video above)


Ask why they didn’t say anything sooner – If it happened when they were young, they may have tried to tell someone but have been ignored or disbelieved. They may not have been able to understand or describe what happened to them. They may have felt entirely to blame for the abuse, have been threatened or have been too frightened to say anything. Most people do try to tell someone at some point.


Cast doubt on what they tell you – Do listen and believe them and be accepting of the way they are reacting. The fact that you are listening and believing DOES help.


Taking care of yourself



• You are not a miracle worker. You must be a special person for them to trust you.


• To make time to look after yourself. YOU are important too.


• You might feel helpless at times, but just being there is important in itself.


• To be gentle with yourself.


• That you may need support too, so that you can continue to be supportive. It can be hard to see someone you care about in pain and distress. Being able to talk to someone in confidence can make a big difference.


At Rape Crisis Grampian we offer can offer a one-off session to people supporting a survivor. We can speak to friends, family members, cares, teachers etc. We will not disclose anything a survivor has said within the service, or confirm or deny if someone is receiving support from Rape Crisis Grampian. These sessions are to either get further advice in how to best support survivors, or as an opportunity for you to talk about how supporting a survivor is impacting yourself. For more information, please see the ‘Contact us’ section of the website.