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Getting (and Giving) Help

How Can I Help a Friend Who Was Raped?

My friend told me that when she was 14 she was raped. She quickly changed the subject. I want to talk to her about it, but I don’t want to upset her. What should I do?
– Laurel*

Sometimes friends want us to know stuff that’s happened to them so we can understand them better. But even when people share information about themselves, they may not always be ready to talk about it. That’s especially true when talking brings up difficult or painful memories.

Your friend may want to talk more about it with you, or she may not. You can simply be honest: Let her know you’re willing to listen if she ever wants to talk more about it, but you don’t want to upset her by bringing it up. That way, she knows you’re open to hearing more and you leave the decision up to her.

You also could ask your friend if she’s ever talked to a counselor about what happened. Lots of places have rape crisis hotlines or centers staffed with professionals who are trained to listen and help.

Whether or not you talk more about this together, your friend knows she has someone who’s willing to listen and care. And you have a friend who’s willing to confide. That means a lot.

Reviewed by: D’Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: July 2013

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.