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Sexual Violence Education and Support

If Someone You Know is Raped...

The following information comes from PAVSA (Program for Aid to Victims of Sexual Assault) and was adapted from information distributed by the Student Assault Recovery Services at the University of Montana. For additional information, please visit PAVSA's website or contact them at (218) 726-1442.

When tying to support a survivor of sexual assault, try not to be judgmental or take control (even when we know a lot about sexual assault, we bring our own values and prejudices to all situations). A sympathetic ear can make a big difference in the recovery process. The following are some helpful guidelines for your interactions with a survivor.

The most important thing for you to remember is to communicate four points:

  • It's not your fault.
  • I'm glad you came for support.
  • You did the best you could
  • I'm sorry it happened.

Other suggestions:

  • Be a good listener.
  • Assist the survivor in getting the help s/he needs and wants. This may mean providing phone numbers, information, an escort, etc.
  • Remember that it is important for a survivor to make her/his own decisions as a step in regaining control and overcoming feelings of helplessness.
  • If s/he feels guilty for not 'fighting back' tell the survivor that fear often inhibits people and that cooperation does not mean consent.
  • Assure the survivor that it was not his/her fault. No one asks or deserves to be raped.
  • Try to minimize the number of times the survivor must involuntarily tell the story of assault.
  • Express support. Be aware that physical closeness, touching, or hugging may or may not be comfortable for the survivor - ask first.

Things to avoid:

  • Giving advice or making decisions for the survivor.
  • Telling the survivor what you would have done.
  • Asking the survivor why s/he did not scream, fight, or run.
  • Asking the survivor if s/he did anything to 'lead' the rapist on.
  • Preventing the survivor from talking about the assault if s/he wants to

Rape Facts

  • One in three women will be raped in her lifetime.
  • One out of four girls and one out of five boys will be sexually assaulted before they are old enought to vote.
  • The median age of a rape victim is 15.
  • Roughly 90% of victims know their attacker.
  • 3/4 of all rapes are planned in advance.
  • Most sexual assaults occur in the victim's home.
  • For every rape that is reported, 10 rapes go unreported.
  • 2/1000 reported rapes are false reports, a figure lower than false reports of other violent crimes.

Contact Us

Women's Resource and Action Center University of Minnesota Duluth Kirby Student Center 266 1120 Kirby Drive Duluth, MN 55812-3085 (218) 726-6292

Office Hours

10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
3:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
8:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

If you need emergency assistance, please contact Susana Pelayo-Woodward in Kirby Student Center 233, (218) 726-8444, or

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Last modified on 01/11/16 07:31 AM
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