You have a friend who has been raped. They are going through a very rough time right now. They need you now more than ever.
1. Just be there for them. Show your friend that you care about them. Stop in their home for a visit.
2. Believe them. As a friend, you have to believe them. They don’t need people telling them they are wrong: they just need support.
3. Remind them that it is not their fault. They did not ask to be raped. Whatever their excuse is, just counter it with a positive statement. For example, if they say, “I shouldn’t have been alone with them,” just remind them that they trusted them and that the trust was violated.
4. Let them be in control of who knows about it. Your friend confided in you because they trust you. If you are worried, suggest telling someone else together.
5. Encourage them to seek medical attention, no matter how long ago the rape occurred. Give them the number of your local rape crisis center. Call there yourself for more advice and information.
6. if you friend is under the age of 16 you need to tell an adult as soon as possible, this is a very difficult part, but someone needs to know!
Tips: When you are talking to them, don’t worry about saying all the right things. Your very presence will be comforting for them. Silence is okay. Don’t ask them a lot of questions, as they don’t want to think about it. Keep eye contact and show that you are listening to them. Don’t forget about yourself. Hearing about a rape can be very upsetting and you are probably now worried that you could be next. Find someone that you can talk to. Remember to keep your friend anonymous though if that is what they want.
Warning: If you think your friend may attempt suicide, tell someone immediately and get help.
I don’t agree with #6, and it contradicts #4 anyway. The biggest, most important thing you can do is to support your friend in making their own choices. If they want to report it, go with them. If they don’t, for the love of god, don’t pressure or shame them. It’s not their responsibility to protect other potential victims or to bring their attacker to justice. Their responsibility is first and foremost to themselves and their own wellbeing.
If neither your friend nor you feel comfortable telling the authorities, you can tell a mandatory reporter. These are people working in certain professions, such as health care, child care, or religious organizations, who are required by law to contact the authorities when presented with evidence of abuse of children, the elderly, or the disabled. To find out who is a mandatory reporter in your state, visit RAINN.