24-Hour Hotline: 434-977-7273
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For Loved Ones

The effects of sexual violence extend far beyond the primary survivor. Friends, family members, and loved ones can be profoundly affected when someone who they care about experiences sexual assault or abuse.

It is important to recognize and address your own reactions to the assault or abuse of a loved one so that you can provide support rather than possibly traumatizing them further. How you react may depend on factors including the nature of the assault, the age of the survivor, and your relationship to them.

You may experience some or all of these feelings:

  • Anger (sometimes towards the victim as well as the perpetrator)
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Guilt or shame
  • Fearfulness
  • Denial
  • Frustration
  • Depression

The most important thing that you can do for a survivor is to believe them and remind them that they are not to blame for what happened to them. From there, take cues on how to help them. Ask the survivor what they would like you to do to be supportive. Helping survivors regain their sense of control is important; give them time to decide how they want to proceed legally or otherwise.

There is support available for you, too. SARA's services are available to friends and family members, even if the victim/survivor does not want services. Be patient with your loved one and yourself as you both heal.

How to help someone who has been sexually assaulted:

Believe them. Not being believed can be as damaging as the sexual assault itself.

Don’t blame them. Even if you would have behaved differently under the same circumstance. Every person who survives a sexual assault deserves respect.

Allow them to make their own decisions. Being a survivor of sexual assault means losing all power and control over what happens to your own body. Let the survivor decide whether or not to report the sexual assault to law enforcement and allow them to make their own choices about medical care.

Encourage them to get their physical health checked out. While it is important to let the survivor make the decision, make sure they understand that someone who has been sexually assaulted can get their physical health taken care of WITHOUT reporting to law enforcement (as long as the survivor is age 18 or older). However, it is important to respect the decisions the survivor makes.

Remember it’s their story to tell. Let the survivor decide who to tell about the sexual assault.

Offer to go with them to law enforcement or hospital. Let the survivor know that you will accompany them to any appointment they choose to make. Don’t pressure them to do something they do not want to do.

Listen to them. Let them talk about their feelings and their perception of the assault.

Don’t tell them to forget. Survivors of sexual assault can’t forget the assault but can learn to take back control of their own life with time.


Upcoming Events

SART Meeting
Oct 21 2021 - Oct 21 2021
12:00PM - 02:30PM
Greene IAP
Oct 25 2021 - Oct 25 2021
10:00AM - 12:30PM
Fluvanna IAC Meeting
Nov 04 2021 - Nov 04 2021
09:30AM - 11:00AM
Louisa IAC
Nov 11 2021 - Nov 11 2021
09:30AM - 11:00AM
Nelson IAC
Nov 15 2021 - Nov 15 2021
02:00PM - 03:30PM

About SARA

The mission of the Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA) is to eliminate sexual violence and its impact by providing education, advocacy and support to men, women and children. Our vision is a community free from sexual violence.

Communities Served

We are located in Charlottesville, Virginia and serve:

  • City of Charlottesville
  • Albemarle County
  • Louisa County
  • Nelson County
  • Fluvanna County
  • Greene County

Contact SARA

 Charlottesville, Virginia

 24-Hour Hotline: 434-977-7273
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 Office: 434-295-7273

 Email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 or fill in the form on our contact page