Tammy likely felt in no position to object. The options Karen offered Tammy were lovely. Or not to press her for any details? Once Tammy arrived, Karen pulled her into a lengthy, enveloping hug. Reach out to your support system. Karen then led Tammy to the sofa, offered tea, and began strongly advising her on what the next steps should be—undergoing a medical exam, filing a police report, making an appointment with a therapist… Karen clearly meant well, but the gestures she made might have unintentionally caused harm. An ER doctor can provide a forensic medical exam, commonly referred to as a rape kit.
Once Tammy arrived, Karen pulled her into a lengthy, enveloping hug. DO ask what they need Karen assumed she knew what her cousin needed after being assaulted, but Tammy felt further disempowered by Karen taking charge. Does the victim want you to listen to her story without interjecting? To make some calls for her? But in the ensuing weeks and months, and even years, your friend is still in need of support. If you or someone you know have been sexually assaulted, you do not need to feel alone in figuring out what to do next. While it might feel imperative to push your friend to visit a healthcare professional, your role is to be a sounding board and comforter, not to force her to do what you feel is best. Visit their website here: In the upcoming trials your friend will have to face, it will help enormously to know that at least one person is unequivocally on their side. The best thing you can do is offer unwavering support. The last thing they need is a person they trust to victim-blame. Being a caretaker takes a toll. DO take care of yourself In the rush to be present for your friend, to listen to her story, to be her rock, you might be triggered to relive a past trauma of your own. Take time for yourself. An ER doctor can provide a forensic medical exam, commonly referred to as a rape kit. Or not to press her for any details? They might be suffering flashbacks, experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD and debilitating fear, having trouble sleeping and concentrating. Tammy likely felt in no position to object. DO continue to be a support long after the bruises fade People typically rally around the one in grief and shock immediately after a trauma. Consider what you can do to raise public awareness about this issue, and educate people about prevention. Do not neglect yourself. For example, if they are not already seeing a mental health counselor and have expressed interest but are too drained to look into it, perhaps you can offer to research some therapists who specialize in trauma. While nothing can erase the horrors of suffering sexual assault, there are right and wrong ways a caring friend can provide comfort. However, this tactic is likely to result in feelings of invalidation for the victim. It is fine, however, to gently encourage these steps, all the while insisting all decisions are completely up to them. Does she want you to offer advice?
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