A close friend just told me that two years ago she was raped.
My friend has just started speaking out about the rape to her close friends. She said she became depressed after the attack but that has improved over the years. When she told me about the attack she said she was considering getting counseling but was afraid and unable to discuss the details of the attack.
How can I help my friend get through this difficult time? I offered to go with her if she decided to go to a support group, but I was wondering if there was anything else I could do. Would it be inappropriate to give her the phone number to a help hotline?
Since I found this information out, I have also been considering trying to start a rape prevention program at my college. How could I go about doing this?
Thank you so much for your help.
Posts: 41 | From: East Coast, USA | Registered: May 2008
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Hi Brassgirl. I think it's really wonderful that you want to help your friend, and even set up a program at your college. I'm sorry to hear that your friend has been feeling so afraid, but it does sound like a very good sign that she's been able to open up to her friends about it. It takes time to heal from rape, but having supportive friends like you goes a very long way. Offering to go with her to a support group meeting is very thoughtful. As for other ways you can help, the biggest thing is to listen, to let her feel that she is being heard. You might also ask her what she needs from you as her friend and how she feels you can best support her. RAINN has a terrific page on ways to help a loved one who has been abused or raped: http://www.rainn.org/get-help/help-a-loved-one
If you want, I can also link you with some articles and personal stories on rape that we have on the site. You may want to read those or just share them with her. Too, she's always welcome to come here herself, and Pandora's Aquarium runs a support group-type message board for survivors of rape (they also welcome supporters of survivors if you feel you would like to talk to other supporters). It's also important, though, that you take care of yourself. That is, if you feel you need to take time to yourself while helping her, that's okay. You can just let her know that you care about her and want to support her but need some time to take care of yourself, too.
Personally, I don't think it would be inappropriate to give her the number to a help line (assuming she doesn't already have those numbers), and it may show that you are supportive, but I also don't know your friend. How do you think she would feel about that gesture?
As for starting a sexual assault awareness program at your college, there are a few ways to go about that and a few different organizations you can utilize. The first thing you'll probably want to do is find out if there are any existing programs on your campus, and if there aren't, then you can set up a meeting with the person on your campus who is in charge of monitoring campus events (I'm not sure if that would be the Dean of Students or someone else, but you could ask someone in the SGA and they'll probably know who to talk to). You'll want to have a formal presentation prepared, including an outline of the event and a fact sheet on the organization and on the rate of sexual assault among college students (that should be pretty easy to find on any one of the websites I've linked below). Below I have a list of different organizations that do sexual assault awareness programs on college campuses and elsewhere.
Unite for Change has a page which describes all the various ways you can get involved in raising awareness about sexual assault and sexual assault prevention. Take Back The Night has a page for event listings, and also links to a Take Back The Night Kit for creating an event in your own community. RAINN also has a sexual assault awareness event called RAINN Day, and you can sign up to take part in this event on your college campus. (RAINN Day 2009 is on September 24th, by the way.) You can also look at what your local rape crisis center or domestic abuse shelter has in the way of community outreach and prevention and ask if they would speak at your campus. You may also find our article, Activism 101, to be useful.
-------------------- Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail Posts: 2726 | From: North America | Registered: Apr 2007
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