How To Help A Victim Of Sexual Assault
This week is Crime Victim's Rights Week in Wyoming, and an official with the Laramie County District Attorney's Office wants to educate people on how to respond to someone who says they have been the victim of sexual assault.
Melissa Walls is the Crime Victim Witness Coordinator with the DA's office. She says educating people on how to react in such situations is vitally important because quite often a sexual assault victim will confide in a close friend or relative before telling anyone else.
She says if you are told about a sexual assault, you should first and foremost make it clear that you believe what they are telling you. Many victims remain silent because they are afraid they won't be believed. Walls says you should remain calm, as a hysterical response won't help the situation and may frighten the victim even further.
She says a caring response such as "I'm sorry this happened to you" or something similar may be helpful.
She says it may also be useful to offer to go with the victim to the police department. You could also help the victim through the process of getting a restraining order or safety plan if that is the appropriate course of action.
The victim may also want to check out crime victim's compensation programs and other resources designed to help crime victims.
Walls says these same steps are also useful in helping victims of domestic violence or other violent crimes.
Walls says a new statewide education program called "Start by Believing" is underway to let people know how to react to crime victims.