Supporting Survivors


My girlfriend told me that before she was with me, she was sexually assaulted. How can I help her?


Thank you so much for this question. We really appreciate you reaching out to find out how to best support the healing of your girlfriend. When your girlfriend shared her experience of sexual assault with you, she placed a great deal of trust in you. It's important to approach the situation with empathy, patience, and understanding. 

To start, be sure to listen without judgment when she talks about her assault. If she wants to talk about it more with you, listen actively and avoid asking probing questions or pushing for details she's not ready to share. Let her know you believe her and that the assault was not her fault.

Additionally, it is important to respect her boundaries. She may have triggers or certain situations that make her uncomfortable. Be understanding and follow her lead in terms of physical intimacy and emotional discussions.

If it seems like she is actively struggling mentally or emotionally related to this experience, you may want to gently suggest the idea of seeking help from a therapist or counselor who specializes in trauma and sexual assault. You might even offer to help her find resources or even accompany her to appointments if she wants. If she is not ready yet for external resources, respect her autonomy and let her know you are always ready to revisit the conversation if she changes her mind. Healing from sexual assault is a process that looks different for everyone. Avoid pressuring her to "move on" or heal faster than she is ready for.

Finally, it is also important that you take care of yourself throughout this process. Supporting a loved one through trauma can be emotionally challenging as you may have to manage your own emotions related to the situation. Remember, your role is to be a steady, compassionate presence in her life. Let her know you are there for her whenever she needs you, but also give her space when she requests it. Remind her of her strength and resilience. Your care and understanding can make a significant difference in her healing journey.

Thank you for this question that I am sure many others have. You are not alone.

Safety Exit