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Helping a Survivor of Sexual Assault


  • Do believe the survivor that she/he was raped. People rarely lie about rape or sexual assault.
  • Do stay with the survivor.
  • Do provide support without taking over. Part of recovery is taking back control of one's life.
  • Do listen to the survivor and concentrate on understanding her/his feelings. Be Patient. Recovery from sexual assault can be slow. Let the person proceed at their own pace.
  • Do communicate to the survivor that you understand her/his feelings.
  • Do ask how you can help.
  • Do share any resources and information you have. Provide information about common reactions to sexual assault to help normalize their experience. [Note: There is no “right” way to react – reactions range from rage, sobbing, and anxiety, to numbness and shock.]
  • Do remind the survivor that rape is the perpetrator's fault, not the victim's. It may be helpful to point out what she/he did to survive.
  • Do gently suggest counseling.
  • Do take care of yourself. Helping someone who has been sexually assaulted is emotionally draining. You may also want to talk with a counselor about your own feelings, including feelings of helplessness, anger, and sadness."


  • Don't attempt to be the "counselor" for the survivor. Refer her/him to the Counseling Center.
  • Don't ask questions or make statements that imply that the rape was the survivor's fault, such as "Why didn't you scream?" or "Why did you go to his room?" or Wow, you were really wasted."
  • Don’t judge. Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault – remember sexual assault does not discriminate.
  • Don't allow your own emotional feelings about the rape to interfere with your interactions with the survivor. This is very difficult, but the key is to be aware of your feelings. It is not helpful to make statements such as, "If I were you, I would kill the creep."
  • Don’t touch or hug the survivor unless she/he asks for you to provide comfort in that way.
  • Don't tell other students what the survivor tells you. It is important to respect her/his privacy.
  • Don't tell the survivor what to do -- "You have to file charges against them.”

Contact Us

Humanities, Room 150
One flight up the turret entrance
Phone: 410-617-CARE (2273)

Call to schedule an appointment
Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.


REACT Online

REACT is an online video that explains how to help yourself or someone you care about cope in healthy ways after a distressing life event (such as a trauma, assault, or loss).