I WANT TO HELP SOMEONE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
If an adult family member or close friend has been sexually assaulted, you can help them.
First and foremost, don’t judge. Victims don’t have to justify themselves, because they are not responsible for what happened to them, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the assault. The perpetrator is the only guilty party.
Ask them what they expect from you and what you can do for them. Above all, don’t make decisions for them. It is essential that victims make their own decisions about how they want to move forward.
Be a good listener
Regardless of the victim’s emotional or physical needs, be honest about your limits in helping them. If the person asks you to keep the assault a secret, we recommend that you talk to a qualified resource; it’s possible to get help without naming the people involved.
If you’re finding it difficult not to get emotionally involved in the victim’s story and experience, don’t hesitate to consult a professional who is specialized in helping sexual assault victims.
By talking to professionals and learning more about the subject, you’re already making a difference for all victims. Don’t keep your questions to yourself. Call a resource.
If someone close to you has committed a sexual assault, there are specialized resources available that can help them start down the path toward change.
- listen without judging;
- believe the victim, even if their version of the facts seems implausible;
- always take the victim’s needs and emotions into consideration;
- praise the victim for their strength and for having had the courage to talk about the assault;
- respect the victim’s choices and let them go at their own pace;
- reassure the victim that they are not responsible for the assault;
- encourage the victim to ask for help or support; if they refuse, consult a resource yourself for guidance.
- downplay the attack or their feelings;
- push them to move too quickly or disregard their emotions;
- try to excuse or justify the perpetrator’s behaviour.
If you suspect that your child or any other child has been sexually assaulted, you have an obligation to report the incident to the Director of Youth Protection. If you call to report a possible sexual assault, your identity will never be revealed without your consent.
Generally, a child does not have the knowledge necessary to invent a sexual assault.
When a child confides in an adult, they need to feel—through the adult’s attitude, words, and behaviours—that the adult shares their pain, that they did the right thing in speaking out, and that the adult will do everything possible to protect them.
- Listen to the child without judging.
- Believe the child, even if their version of the facts seems implausible.
- Always take the child’s needs and emotions into consideration.
- Praise the child for their strength and for having had the courage to talk about the assault.
- Encourage them to express their emotions without asking questions about the details of the assault; the child will tell you what they think is important.
- Do not influence the child by asking leading questions or making specific comments, because they will have to repeat their story to professionals, who have a specific way of conducting these types of conversations.
- Avoid expressing anger or disgust in front of the child, which could cause them to stop talking.
- Establish a safety plan with the child and make sure they are no longer in contact with the perpetrator.
- Let the child confide in you at their own pace and reassure them about their experience.
- Reassure the child that they are not to blame for the assault.
- Consult an outside resource about how to help and support the child.
- Don’t promise that you will keep the assault a secret; explain to the child that you have a duty to inform the Director of Youth Protection.
If you know a victim, chances are you also know a perpetrator. Don’t keep your questions to yourself; call a resource. In many cases, sex offenders tend to deny and minimize the gravity of their actions, in order to justify their behaviour. If someone close to you has committed a sexual assault, there are specialized resources that can help them start down the path toward change.