People Close To Survivors Also Need Support
People close to survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence often feel that they need to be strong and take care of their friend or loved one. It is normal to want to help and that support is crucial to the survivor, but it is important to remember to take care of yourself as well. You may have to cope with your own feelings of violation, vulnerability, and helplessness, as well as with the issue of how to treat the survivor in a helpful way. You may feel sad, helpless, frightened, angry, or confused; your responses, which may be very strong, are normal and legitimate. You may feel that you were at fault for the assault, and dwell on a long list of "If only I had…". Sexual violence is only the fault of the perpetrator.
People close to assault survivors also need a safe place to deal with their own feelings. This is important for everyone's recovery because people close to survivors can, in trying to cope with their own fear, anger, and guilt, make coping more difficult for the survivor. For instance, you may be angry, want revenge, and push the survivor to take action before s/he is ready. You may try to do too much to help. Or, you may find it so painful to experience the survivor's pain that you push the survivor to "get better" faster than s/he is able to recover from the trauma.
People close to survivors may still need someone to whom they can talk. Providing support can be exhausting and overwhelming.
Adapted from UCLA's site on Sexual Violence.