How to help

The role of family members and close friends

Support from family members and friends plays an important role in the healing process for a victim of sexual assault. Here are some things you can do to help them.

Listen to what the victim says without passing judgment. Let the victim express himself or herself in his or her own words, at his or her own pace.

Believe what the victim tells you. It’s his or her experience and his or her perception of what happened. You should focus on what he or she says.

Accept what the victim says and don’t minimize or exaggerate the facts, emotions or consequences.

Point out the victim’s strengths
Praise the victim for his or her strength and for having had the courage to talk about the assault.

Tell the victim that it’s not his or her fault
Let the victim know the sexual assault was not his or her fault; the perpetrator is entirely responsible. The victim needs only to focus on looking after himself or herself.

Encourage self-sufficiency
Help the victim to regain power over his or her life, while still remaining available to him or her. Give him or her space to breathe and to get back to his or her usual routine.

Acknowledge his or her emotions
Help the victim to express what he or she feels by acknowledging his or her reactions, emotions and feelings (anger, resentment, guilt, low self-esteem).

Aid and guide them
Let victims know you are available to talk to or guide them. It is important to tell them that there are also resources available to help them and that you can guide them to these resources. If you feel unable to help them, refer them to these resources.

Validate their emotions
Help victims express what they feel by reassuring them that their reactions, emotions, and feelings of anger, resentment, guilt, and low self-esteem are normal. Everyone is entitled to respect for their integrity; sexual assault is unacceptable and criminal.

If you think that a child, family member or friend has been the victim of sexual assault, consult these resources for advice and help.


Duty to report

The Youth Protection Act states that everyone who has reason to believe that a child under the age of 18 is a victim of sexual assault, or is at serious risk of being a victim of sexual assault, has a duty to inform the director of youth protection (DYP).

All situations of sexual abuse, with or without physical contact, must be brought to the situation to the attention of the DYP without delay, regardless of the alleged assailant or the measures taken by the parents to remedy the situation.

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