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How Can I Help a Friend Who Was Raped?

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD

My friend told me that she was raped when she was 14. She quickly changed the subject. I want to talk to her about it. But I don't want to upset her. What should I do?
– Laurel*

Sometimes friends want us to know stuff that's happened to them so we can understand them better. But even when people share information about themselves, they may not be ready to talk about it. Talking can bring up painful memories.

Your friend may want to talk more about it with you, or she may not. You can simply be honest: Let her know you are willing to listen if she ever wants to talk more about it, but you don't want to upset her by bringing it up. That way, she knows you are open to hearing more and you leave the decision up to her.

You also could ask your friend if she has ever talked to a counselor about what happened. Lots of places have rape crisis hotlines or centers. They are staffed with professionals who are trained to listen and help.

Even if you don't talk more about this together, your friend knows she has someone who is willing to listen and care. And you have a friend who is willing to confide. That means a lot.

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: October 2018