How To Support a Victim of Sexual Assault

Developed by Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence


If you are reading this, a person you care about has probably been a victim of sexual assault. Because you care about this person, you may experience feelings that may be similar to those of the person who has been assaulted. These feelings may include anger, shock, helplessness, grief, and, perhaps, even guilt. You will never know exactly how a victim feels about the assault, but you can listen and be supportive. This brochure will assist you in helping the victim cope with the trauma of the assault, as well as assist you with your own trauma related to the assault.

How to Start the Conversation

Seek out a private, quiet place to begin talking. Allow plenty of time to talk at length. Start by saying the following:

  • It is not your fault.
  • I am here to listen.
  • I am sorry it happened.

During the conversation - What do you do?

  • Listen. Your friend may need to tell you about the assault over and over again.
  • Believe. Survivors need to know that you believe what happened. It is rare that people make up stories about sexual assault.
  • Validate feelings. Acknowledge your friend’s sadness, anger, fear, or confusion.
  • Assure. Tell your friend that she/he did the best she/he could do to survive the situation and that no one deserves to be sexually assaulted.
  • Don’t say “When are you going to get over this?”
  • Don’t blame or judge your friend.

Now that you know, what can you do?

Support

  • Avoid treating your friend like a helpless victim.
  • Healing takes time. Respect your friend’s pace and be patient.
  • Accept your friend’s decision whether to report the assault and/or to cooperate with the prosecution.
  • Help your friend with plans, but don’t make decisions for her/him.
  • Respect your friend’s right to tell or not tell others about the assault.
  • Only give advice if and when your friend asks for it.

Educate

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  • Remind your friend that sexual assault is a crime and is never the victim’s fault.
  • Remind your friend that millions of people have experienced sexual assault and that she/he is not alone.

Act

  • Help your friend identify support systems and provide information on local crisis or mental health providers.
  • • You may accompany your friend to either the hospital or the law enforcement station.
  • With permission from your friend, enlist other friends and family to help.
  • Stay with your friend through the healing process.
  • Don’t pressure your friend to resume sexual relationships until she/he is ready. This may take some time.

To Report or To Not Report

Reporting a sexual assault to law enforcement is a very individualized decision that victims will need to make for themselves. Remember, if your friend decides not to report, they are still fully entitled to support services and medical care. If your friend does decide to report, you will need to know what to expect from the criminal justice system. Below is a brief overview of what to expect. Your local sexual assault program advocate will be able to more fully help you understand the process in your area and to support you through it.

Hospital Response

A sexual assault evidence kit, sometimes called a “rape kit,” is performed by medical personnel to collect evidence at the request of law enforcement. Although medical personnel who collect the evidence are well-trained, the process may be uncomfortable. Support is important; your friend may need you to be there. The cost of collection of the evidence will be assessed to the county. However, there may be other costs incurred at the hospital for medical treatment that are not considered part of the evidence kit. If your friend has reported the assault to law enforcement, she/he may be eligible for Crime Victims’ Compensation benefits that can help pay for financial losses such as medical expenses, lost wages, counseling/therapy, and other costs related to the assault.

Law Enforcement Response

Law enforcement will need to ask your friend questions about the assault. Some questions may be very difficult to answer and may not make sense at the time they are asked, but there is a reason for them. It is not unusual for law enforcement to visit with the victim numerous times during the course of an investigation. Once law enforcement has investigated and has been able to identify the offender, they will send the information to the prosecutor.

Prosecutor Response

The prosecutor determines if there is enough evidence to move forward with prosecution. The system sometimes moves slowly. It sometimes seems that just as a victim begins to feel OK, she/he is thrown back into the middle of the trauma because of a court hearing or trial. Sometimes victims find it very important to have information about the court case and proceedings. Most prosecutors have Victim Witness Coordinators who can help get this information. Victims have a legal right to certain information about the case.

Advocate Response

Advocates from your local sexual assault program can be accessed whether or not your friend chooses to report. Advocates can be helpful to friends and family members of victims. Advocates are trained to be with victims at the hospital, go the law enforcement station, provide individual and group counseling, and provide you with specific information about sexual assault. Whether your friend decides to report, getting in touch with your local sexual assault program can be a very important and helpful step in healing.

Sexual assault is a crisis, and we all handle crisis in different ways. Some victims go into shock after being sexually assaulted, or experience overwhelming fear, anger, shame or anxiety. The emotional reaction to sexual assault is complex and often confusing. Remember that these feelings and experiences are not unusual. The fear and confusion will lessen with time, but the trauma may disrupt your friend’s life for awhile.


For support, contact one of the following:

Kansas Crisis Hotline
1-888-END-ABUSE
(1-888-363-2287)

National Sexual Assault Hotline
1-800-656-HOPE
(1-800-656-4673)

Kansas Sexual and Domestic Violence Programs

Programs are listed below alphabetically by city with their HOTLINE phone numbers. The numbers on the map correspond to the programs listed. Call the program nearest you. You do not have to live in the city where the program is located to use their services.

image map image map image map Image Map

DV = domestic violence services provided
SA = sexual assault services provided

CITYSERVICESKCSDV MEMBER PROGRAMCRISIS HOTLINE NUMBER 
1. Atchison DV/SA DoVES 800-367-7075 or 913-367-0363 Back to map
2. Dodge City DV/SA Crisis Center of Dodge City 620-225-6510 Back to map
3. El Dorado DV/SA Family Life Center of Butler County 800-870-6967 or 316-321-7104 Back to map
4. Emporia DV/SA SOS, Inc. 800-825-1295 or 620-342-1870 Back to map
5. Garden City DV/SA Family Crisis Services 800-275-0535 or 620-275-5911 Back to map
6. Great Bend DV/SA Family Crisis Center 866-792-1885 or 620-792-1885 Back to map
7. Hays DV/SA Options: Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, Inc. 800-794-4624 or 785-625-3055 Back to map
8. Hutchinson DV/SA Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Center 800-701-3630 or 620-663-2522 Back to map
9. Iola DV/SA Hope Unlimited 620-365-7566 Back to map
10. Kansas City - Wyandotte Cnty DV Friends of Yates Joyce Williams Center 913-321-0951 Back to map
11. Kansas City - Johnson Cnty DV Safehome 888-432-4300 or 913-262-2868 Back to map
12. Kansas City DV El Centro, Inc. ¡Si Se Puede! 913-281-1186 Back to map
13. Kansas City DV/SA KCAVP 816-561-0550 Back to map
14. Kansas City SA MOCSA 816-531-0233 Back to map
15. Lawrence SA GaDuGi Safe Center 785-843-8985 Back to map
16. Lawrence DV The Willow Domestic Violence Center 800-770-3030 or 785-843-3333 Back to map
17. Leavenworth DV/SA Alliance Against Family Violence 800-644-1441 or 913-682-9131 Back to map
18. Liberal DV/SA Liberal Area Rape Crisis and DV Services 620-624-8818 Back to map
19. Manhattan DV/SA The Crisis Center, Inc. 800-727-2785 or 785-539-2785 Back to map
20. Mayetta DV/SA Prairie Band Potawatomi Family Violence Prevention Program 866-966-0173 or 785-966-8330 Back to map
21. Newton DV/SA Harvey County DV/SA Task Force 800-487-0510 or 316-283-0350 Back to map
22. Pittsburg DV/SA Safehouse Crisis Center, Inc. 800-794-9148 or 620-231-8251 Back to map
23. Salina DV/SA Domestic Violence Assoc. of Central Kansas 800-874-1499 or 785-827-5862 Back to map
24. Topeka DV/SA YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment 888-822-2983 or dia 785-354-7927 o tarde / fin de semana 785-234-3330 Back to map
25. Wichita DV Catholic Charities Harbor House 866-899-5522 or 316-263-6000 Back to map
26. Wichita DV StepStone 316-265-1611 Back to map
27. Wichita SA Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center 316-263-3002 Back to map
28. Wichita DV YWCA Women's Crisis Center 316-267-7233 Back to map
29. Winfield DV/SA Safe Homes, Inc. 800-794-7672 or 620-221-4357 Back to map

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