If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault or sexual abuse, you can reach out for help.
For someone else:
- for a family member or friend
- for someone at work
- for a client or patient
- for your organisation / community
- so that I can support someone
If someone close to you has experienced sexual violence, you may be looking for ways to help them. Having a good support network (including family, friends, general practitioner) can help them to recover. They can access confidential counselling and support. There are a number of strategies that they can learn to help them on their healing journey.
We know that it can be hard to be a support person, too. It is important to look after yourself.
What can I do to help them through this?
Sexual assault is a crime. It can happen to anyone.
It is never the survivor’s fault.
If the person is in danger, call 000.
The way people respond following a disclosure can help with the survivor’s recovery. Listen to the person. Really listen. It is normal for them to be confused, to have difficulty concentrating or remembering things, and to be distressed.
The way survivors respond following a sexual assault can be different for each person. They might cry, scream, or have outbursts. That is their right. It is also their right to withdraw, and to be silent if they choose.
One of the most important things is to allow the person to regain a sense of control over their life and to make their own decisions. Do not assume they want to talk about it. Ask first. Be available. Give them time. They do not need to talk about the assault to recover, or to heal.
Reassure them that, even if they feel otherwise, it is not their fault. They did what they needed to survive. Do not question or judge what they did to get through.
The survivor is the one who needs to make any decisions regarding the abuse or assault. It is up to them to decide if they want to have a forensic medical examination, to report to police, to go to counselling, or not. Empowering the person helps them to regain a sense of control over their lives after having that control taken away by the offender. Be the support person who helps them take control back for themselves.
Remember that counselling is not for everyone. They may choose their own way forward.
Read through the page for survivors and be aware of services available in your area in case they ever want to reach out for help. It can be helpful to save numbers to your mobile phone.
Look after yourself
Be mindful of the impact this is having on you. Listening to or observing someone’s experience of trauma can be challenging and can trigger your own stress response or bring back memories from the past.
Make self-care your priority. Be proactive about this. Make time to exercise, eat properly, ensure that you rest and are getting enough sleep. Be aware of your own emotional needs. Reach out for help, sometimes it can help to talk to someone from a sexual assault service, or a counsellor.
We can offer confidential counselling services for support people. This can be a one-off appointment or ongoing counselling.
24/7 Support Hotline
We offer a 24-hour support hotline to help people in acute distress or experiencing a situation where they need immediate support or assistance. If you call the support hotline, we can assist even if you wish to remain anonymous. We can help with advocacy, support, strategies, and options to manage.
Anyone who has been subjected to sexual violence, or is a support person for a survivor, can access this hotline.
We can provide free counselling support to survivors and non-offending support people.
You can access immediate support by reaching out to our 24-hour support hotline, and if you would prefer you may remain anonymous.
We sometimes have waiting lists for ongoing counselling services. We will work with you to provide check-in phone support, resources, and/or one-off sessions until a place becomes available.
For more information about our counselling services, click here.