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Help guide

Self Help Guide for Supporters

The Survivors’ Network guide for family and friends


This guide is for family and friends supporting a person of any gender or sexual orientation, over the age of fourteen, who has been affected by sexual violence; recently or over a year ago.

This includes: rape, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, incest, sexual domestic violence, trafficking and sexual exploitation, online sexual bullying, female genital mutilation, ritual abuse, forced marriage, so-called ‘honour’- based violence, sexual intimidation, coercion or harassment, whether physical or verbal.

When a person has been raped or sexually abused it can affect how they think, feel, behave and see the world and those around them. This guide explains some common behaviours, emotions, thoughts and physical reactions that a survivor might be experiencing. Survivors can fear the impact that their disclosure will have on their life and on those closest to them; that they will be ignored, judged or not believed. Some of these responses can change the relationship that family and friends have with the person they are supporting. Family and friends can experience many confusing feelings of sadness, frustration, guilt, loneliness, helplessness and/or shock. By providing information and practical suggestions this guide aims to empower family and friends to support the person they care about.