If a survivor of sexual violence comes to you, what should you do?

At Together for Girls, we believe that part of being a good friend means knowing what to say when and if a friend shares their experience of sexual violence with you. If a friend confided in you, would you know what to say? Read more about what to do—and not to do—so you’re equipped to respond in the best way possible.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Talking to a Survivor of Sexual Violence

Know the Facts about Post-Rape Care

VACS data shows that up to 38 percent of girls and 21 percent of boys have experienced some form of sexual violence in childhood. Of these survivors, only about half ever tell someone about the experience—if they do, it’s most often a peer. An even smaller group seeks services, and very few actually receive services.


This means that friends can play a powerful role in connecting survivors to critical and timely care. Yet many people do not understand the importance of these services or the fact that, after a rape, every hour matters in preventing potentially lifelong health problems. 

Two high school age Honduran girls from the island of Roatan have big toothy smiles on their face as they pose on a front porch. There is a washing machine on the porch. They are smiling at each other. Shot taken with Canon 5D Mark lll.

Here are some facts about the short window of time available to access critical services:

– HIV can be prevented if survivors receive life-saving medication within 72 hours.

– Emergency contraception can help prevent a pregnancy if accessed within 120 hours.

– Medical help for physical trauma may be urgently needed depending on the situation.


By responding appropriately when a survivor comes to you with their story, you help them feel heard and cared for, and can take action to safeguard their health and wellbeing. We need our friends, and our friends need us – so let’s take the first step in being a good friend.    

Learn more about why Every Hour Matters when it comes to post-rape care by visiting our Every Hour Matters campaign page or reading our Youth Engagement Toolkit

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