This page has been printed from the Yarrow Place website http://www.yarrowplace.sa.gov.au
Support in responding to disclosure of adult rape and sexual assault
Rape and sexual assault can happen to anyone regardless of age,
cultural background, sex, economic situation and sexuality. Your
response as a trusted doctor or health worker to a victim of rape
or sexual assault is very important. You can help them to feel more
in control of what is happening. Below you will find guidelines
to assist in responding to someone who has told you they have been
raped or sexually assaulted.
Believe them. False reports of rape and sexual assault
are very rare.
Listen and hear what the person is saying to you. Acknowledge
the pain. Don't get caught up in your own responses such as disgust
or anger at the story told to you.
Let them know they are not to blame. No matter what they
are wearing, how intoxicated they are, what they were doing or who
they were with, rape or sexual assault is never the victim's fault.
Beware of unintentional comments or questions that may be interpreted
as implying responsibility (eg why were you there?).
Fear, shame, guilt, anger, frustration, panic, despair and calmness
are all normal reactions. Let them know their feelings and reactions
are OK. Take care not to minimise or discount how they feel.
Ask what might help them to feel safe and allow the person to
have control and choice over what is happening to them. (Whether
to involve the police, whether to contact a sexual assault service
Treat the person with dignity and respect. Confidentiality
Respect the person's space - don't crowd or touch without permission.
Recognise and affirm the person's strengths and courage to disclose
that they had been assaulted.
Give information about the options for further action.
Promote the concept of future recovery.
Remember - offenders may give plausible denials and may be pillars