24-Hour Domestic Abuse Hotline: 208.343.7025


The Compassion Project

24-Hour Domestic Violence Hotline: 208.343.7025 24-hour Rape Crisis Hotline: 208.345.7273 (RAPE)

How to Respond When a Friend Confides

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and part of creating a more compassionate society as a whole is in how we respond to sexual assault survivors.

As the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, RAINN, explains:

Fascilla-Emily“Sexual assault is a violent act to humiliate, terrorize and degrade the victim, with survivors feeling fear of rejection, humiliation, shame and degradation as part of a host of emotions they experience. Fear of being judged or being seen as liars are two prevalent reasons for not assisting in the judicial process. For many male victims, the shame and secrecy is compounded by the fear that their own sexuality may have something to do with being targeted, or at least that others will think so.”

The distress caused by sexual assault is neurological, biological, and psychological – making trauma-informed care a non-negotiable necessity. Being trauma-informed simply means understanding that your reaction as a friend, acquaintance, or society member toward someone who has been sexually assaulted has the power to do further damage. That said, it also has the power to begin their healing process.

To achieve the latter, here are five responses to help you be a compassionate listener and trauma-informed confidant for survivors of sexual assault.

“I’m sorry this happened.” Acknowledge their experience and express empathy. Say things like, “This must be really tough for you.”

“It’s not your fault.” Reassure, reassure, reassure. This is not their fault, you are not judging them. There is never an excuse for sexual violence. Clothing, level of sobriety, and being alone are not invitations or justifications for an act of sexual assault against another human.

“I believe you.” Don’t use words like “alleged” or “supposed.” While the accused has the right to remain innocent until proven guilty, the victim has a right and emotional need to be believed. There is an incredible campaign that focuses entirely on this called Start By Believing. It demonstrates the crucial importance of believing someone who comes forward.

“I’m here for you.” Be an attentive listener, but also be comfortable with periods of silence and the possibility that your physical presence could be more meaningful than what you say.

“You can trust me.” Reassure them you won’t judge and you’ll protect their privacy and confidentiality. Keep that promise.

“Can we take you to the hospital?” Medical attention is always needed, even if the assault happened a while ago. It is possible your friend or acquaintance is unaware there are designated facilities that are prepared to meet their needs. It can also feel like a very scary or intimidating process to seek help. Here in Boise, one of the best resources we have is FACES Victim Center. Law enforcement reporting, medical services and forensic exams can be done onsite in one visit at no charge to the client.

According to the latest statistics by RAIIN, for every 100 rapes, 32 are reported to the police, 7 will lead to an arrest, 2 of those rapists will spend one single day in prison. 98 rapists will walk free. A friend, colleague, or acquaintance confiding in you is often the first step they will take in their reporting process. Being compassionate, supportive and simply believing them can make a difference in their immediate emotional state, as well as encourage a cultural shift. Our justice system will not change the treatment of victims until our society changes the treatment of victims.

To learn more about the damaging effects of victim blaming and victim shaming in various justice systems read about Denim Day here and join us in our efforts to raise awareness surrounding these issues.
Back to Blog >>


Oct 01


Sue B Stroll and 5K October 1, 2023

Join us for the 14th annual SueB 5k  and  3k  Urban  stroll  for  Every-Body Continuing to honor the memory of Susan “SueB” Newby, the 14th annual SueB 5K Fun Run will kick off on Sunday, October 1st at 12 noon at Julia Davis Park. You can sign up to participate here with 5K registration starting at $25. […]

learn more

Oct 01


SueB 5k and Family Friendly Scavenger Hunt October 1, 2023

Join us for the 14th annual SueB 5k and 3k Family Friendly Scavenger Hunt for EveryBODY! The 14th annual SueB 5k and 3k Scavenger Hunt will be on October 1, 2023 and we hope you can join us! We invite you to join us to raise awareness about domestic abuse, while memorializing the life of […]

learn more

Oct 18


Witches Night Out at the Village

Mark your calendars for Witches Night Out on October 18, 2023 from 6 – 9 p.m. Wednesday, October 18 we will be celebrating Witches Night Out at The Village at Meridian, hosted by Meridian’s Centercal Properties and its marvelous merchants. Several sponsors help make the evening a resounding success, raising funds for the WCA’ clients’ […]

learn more

Dec 14


Concert for Cause

Mark you calendars for 2023 Concert for Cause – December 14th Thursday, December 14th 94.9 The River is excited to present headlining artist Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness with Michigander and Arlie for their 2023 Concert for Cause benefitting the WCA! Join us at The Knitting Factory Concert House in Bodo for an evening of […]

learn more





© 2021 Women's and Children's Alliance | Privacy Policy | Equal Opportunity Policies