Family & Friends

If you are supporting someone who has been raped or sexually assaulted it can be painful and confusing. It is often difficult to know how to act or what to say. It can take a long time for a victim to be able to talk about what has happened. It is important that victims are believed and listened to, regardless of when the abuse happened.

You can make it easier by:

  • Believing – take time to listen without judging, criticising or questioning.
  • Being patient – don’t force the victim to talk.
  • Reassuring – no one has the right to rape or abuse in any circumstance.
  • Understanding- victims can experience a range of different reactions and emotions. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way for a victim to react.
  • Empowering – experiencing sexual violence can make victims feel they have no control over what is happening. Regaining a sense of control is an important part of recovery.
  • Taking care of yourself

It can be easy to forget that you need to look after yourself too. For people who are close to the victim there can be a range of emotions for you to deal with too  these can range from shock to anger.

Here are some points to think about:

  • Remember the victim has trusted you enough to share this information with you.
  • You are not a miracle worker – provide information of support services that may help  but don’t push for the victim to contact them.
  • You may feel helpless or distressed at times but remember that just being there is important in itself.
  • Be gentle with yourself.
  • Remember 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.

We understand that it can be difficult for the close friends and family of survivors of rape and sexual assault. Looking after your own wellbeing is very important to help provide survivors with the best possible support network.

Counselling can help you to make sense of your own feelings, better understand what your friend or family member is going through in order for you to support them through this time.

Find your local SARC

The Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Teesside provides 24/7 support to anyone who has experienced rape and other sexual offences, whether this has happened recently or in the past.

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SARC Northumberland Tyne & Wear opened in September 1991 to provide a free, confidential counselling, support and advice service for women (aged 16 and over at the time of the assault) who have been subjected to an attack of a sexual nature.

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The Meadows Sexual Assault Referral Centre aims to provide a sensitive and comprehensive service to residents of County Durham and Darlington who have experienced rape or sexual assault.

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The staff are really helpful and lovely they could not have done more

Female, 35, Police Interview

Brilliant, could not of got through this tough time without all the help from staff. Thank you for everything

Male, 20, Support Session

They were lovely and made me feel comfortable. Out of hours staff were lovely as well. Talked to me and made me feel at ease and safe

Female, 18, Medical Examination, Police Interview

Excellent, very supportive, listened and gave good advice. A massive thank you to the staff for being so supportive with my daughter and myself at this traumatic time for her. You do an excellent job.

Female, 47, Medical Examination, Police Interview
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