2013-06-11 21:00:59

Quick Hit: What not to say to a friend who has been assaulted

Feministe published a great piece by Harvard undergrad Anahvia Mewborn on 20 things never to tell a friend who has been assaulted. I don’t know about you, but I’ve definitely heard many of these before. Some highlights include:


2. “Was he DRUNK?”



The emphasis on the “drunk” part comes off as though you believe there is no way this person could do something like this unless he were under the influence (which still doesn’t make his actions excusable). If you are friends with him, it will be even harder for you to imagine your friend committing an act of sexual violence. If you don’t believe the person is that “type” to do such a thing, don’t let me know you’re skeptical, because that weakens the trust and safety I feel confiding in you.


4. “Why didn’t you tell me before?”



Regardless of how close we are, it’s not easy for someone who’s been through a traumatic experience to bare their soul right away. Just because I didn’t tell you immediately after it happened doesn’t mean I don’t trust you. It’s hard to put words to an incident that I wish had never happened in the first place.


12. “It could’ve been worse.”



Very true. That doesn’t make what happened to me any less severe. That doesn’t mean I’ll say, “Gee, you’re right. What am I even upset about?” The fact that it could’ve been worse doesn’t make me feel better in the slightest.


17. “This isn’t fair to me to be in this position. I wish you never told me.”



Do you even hear yourself? I know it’s tough to be hit with cold, hard reality. But for you to tell me that it’s not fair for YOU to know what I’ve been through is selfishness and immaturity at its finest.


19. “Does he know how this has affected you? Maybe he’d be sorry if he knew.”


Whether or not he would be “sorry” if he knew how upset I am after the incident, don’t ever try to paint said perpetrator in a sensitive, caring light. That doesn’t mean you need to bash him. But don’t try to reassure me that he’d be eternally remorseful if he knew how hurt I am.


You find the whole list here. Here’s a question: What should you say when a friend tells you they were assaulted? Survivors, how have friends successfully supported you?


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