Advice on How to Support

.Advice on how to offer support:

  • Make sure that you let them feel that they are believed, acknowledge how hard it must have been for them to talk to someone about it.
  • It is important to remain non-judgmental.  The person may be making negative judgements about themselves; feelings of guilt or shame are not uncommon, or have had negative judgements made by other people, it is important not to reinforce these feelings
  • Don’t ask why the assault happened, this may lead the person to feel that they could have done something to prevent – which they couldn’t.
  • Individuals often feel a loss of control, both during the assault but this can also stay with them afterwards.  It is important that control is given back to the individual, even small things such as not pressuring to give more details about the incident, let them speak to you in their own time and at their own pace. It is important to offer support and also allow them to make their own decisions. What you think might be the best thing to do may not be right for them.
  • Be patient. They may not want to talk right now and you may not feel that you are not doing enough but just being there for them may be all they need at the moment.
  • Try to stay calm, you may be feeling very angry or upset, it is important to try and remain calm. Anger or frustration may be perceived as directed at the person you are supporting, even when it is not.
  • Don’t tell them to forget about it. Or to put what has happened in the past.  In relation to time it may be in the past but it may feel very present to them.  Do not assume you know what they are thinking or feeling.
  • Reassure them that what they are feeling is normal, everyone reacts differently.
  • Give practical support.  You can do this by offering to go to appointments with them, such as attending GUM or attending Horizon for an examination.


If you would like to contact Horizon West Midlands on behalf of a friend, relative or partner you can do so through our 24/7 freephone self-referral number 0808 168 5698 and you will be connected to a crisis worker who can answer your questions.
It is not uncommon to feel a range of emotions including guilty, angry, confused or powerless to protect a loved one.  Counselling can be helpful for both the individual and for family, friends or partners.  Horizon do not employ counsellors however we work closely with specialist counselling agencies, for details of counselling agencies local to you please click here.