Nayely Gonzalez is a doctoral student at Indiana University Bloomington studying Counseling Psychology. Nayely graduated with her Bachelor's degree from Ripon College in 2016, double majoring in Psychology and English. Her research interests include human sexuality, Latinx mental health, sexual assault prevention strategies among college students, and clinical practice with LGBTQ populations.
They Might Be Feeling:
Helplessness, guilt, shame
Loss of intimacy
Loss of routine
Frustration, anger, fear, uncertainty
Need for retaliation
Mood swings, Irritability
Disturbances in eating and sleeping habits
Inability to concentrate or relax
Resurfacing memories of past abuse
Words That Might Be Encouraging:
I believe you. It took a lot of courage for you to tell me about this.
It's not your fault. Everyone deserves to be treated with repsect.
I am sorry that you have to go through this. I am here to support you.
I am sorry this happened to you. You should not have to go through this.
You are not alone. I care about you, and I am here to help you in any way I can.
It's not your fault. You did not do anything to deserve what happened to you.
Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline to talk to a trained staff member from your local sexual assault service provider: (800) 656-HOPE.
I’m here for you if you want to talk to me about this some more.
I’m so sorry that you had to go through this.
You are a survivor, and that’s important to remember.
I’m glad that you are brave and speaking up about this.
Thank you for confiding in me. I’m glad that you trust me enough to talk to me.
Can I get you anything to make you more comfortable right now?
Words That Might Be Discouraging:
You have been dealing with this for a while now. How much longer do think it will take for you to get through this?
Why didn’t you try to run away?
Why can’t you just get over it?
You should have handled this differently.
I don’t think I believe you.
This happens to a lot of people.
Maybe if you weren’t wearing that outfit, this wouldn’t have happened.
Maybe it was your fault.
Actions You Might Consider Taking:
Suggest going to the authorities if the crime is ongoing or falls under your state’s statute of limitations in regards to rape or sexual violence/assault.
Offer to go with them to their first therapy session, the police station or a sexual victims' anonymous group. Sexual abuse is often very isolating for victims, so making them feel safe and giving them a support system is vital.
Know your limits. You can be there for support and offer advice, but you also have your own emotions and feelings to consider. Step back or look for secondary survivor hotlines and resources if the situation becomes emotionally taxing. Also, remember that you aren’t a licensed professional or the police – leave that work to them.
Know how to help a friend who is an abuse survivor suffering from common after effects, like flashbacks and panic attacks.
Don’t judge them.
Make sure not to ask questions that imply that the assualt or rape was their fault.
Don't touch or hug your friend unless you’re sure your friend is comfortable with physical contact. If you're not sure, it's okay to ask.
Don't act in ways that are upsetting to your friend.
Don't tell your friend what to do; rather, help your friend explore options.
See Personalized Encouragement Recommendations for Someone You Care About