How to Respond
When a Loved One Discloses Abuse
What are Sexual Abuse and Assault?
Sexual abuse refers to any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they don’t want to do. It can also refer to behavior that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including oral sex, rape or restricting access to birth control and condoms.
- Unwanted kissing or touching.
- Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity.
- Rape or attempted rape.
- Refusing to use condoms or restricting someone’s access to birth control.
- Keeping someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or otherwise unable to give a clear and informed “yes” or “no.”
- Threatening or pressuring someone into unwanted sexual activity.
How You Respond Matters
What Should You Avoid Saying or Doing?
Don’t ask “why” questions. Even with good intentions, questions starting in “why” may come across accusatory.
Don’t ask if they’re sure it happened.
Don’t say it doesn’t sound like sexual assault or “isn’t that bad.”
Don’t tell them they should have gotten over it or moved on by now.
Don’t insist they have to do a certain thing such as talk to the police. Let them make their own decisions.
If you have questions about how to respond to and support your loved ones, call Lotus 24-Hour Helpline 1(800)928-7273.