- Take her word for it. It's possible that the single most important factor is the recovery of rape victims is whether or not someone believes their story. Fight the urge to question the facts as she tells them—even if the rape involves someone you know.
- Attend to her physical and personal needs. If the rape is very recent, she may need medical attention. Ask her if she wants to go to the hospital and abide by her decision. Physical evidence that can identify the rapist is collected at the hospital, but if your friend doesn't want to go, she can still press charges later. Making that decision may be more than she can cope with immediately after the rape. If she does decide to go to the hospital, advise her not to take a shower, clean up, or change clothes. That will destroy the evidence.
- Don't take control of the situation—just listen. Fight the impulse to take action or give directions. Let her be in charge. If she wants to lock the doors, help her. If she wants to cry, let her. If she doesn't want to talk, don't press her.
- Reinforce that she is not to blame. She may keep revisiting the incident and blaming herself. "I should never have gotten into his car," or "I should have resisted more." Remind her that nobody deserves to be raped.
- Control your own reactions. This is not about you. You may be upset and angry and feel like beating someone up or confronting them. Threatening to do these things will not help your friend. She has just endured a violent experience and needs to be with a calm and rational person.
- Suggest that she get help. This is especially important for rape survivors who do not go to the hospital immediately and do not call the police. They want to forget put the rape behind them. Trying to forget about a rape is not the best way to heal. After some time has passed, suggest she talk to a counselor or therapist. If she refuses, ask again later. Be gently persistent. Tell her you will go with her if she wants you to.
Adapted from "Healing the Harm: Sexual Assault on Campus"