This is when a person is made to have unwanted sexual activity with another person. It can include rape, forced voyeurism/exhibitionism, unwanted touching and sexual harassment.
If the sexual abuse is current it should be dealt with immediately. If your friend has told you that they have been sexually assaulted then encourage them to
- call the police immediately, or a rape crisis centre/person, or a health professional, or a hospital (offer to accompany them as a support person)
- try and prevent them from destroying evidence (e.g. changing clothes, washing, altering the environment where it happened).
Long term support for your friend
The sooner your friend gets therapy the better the long term outcome. This is often difficult for someone who has been sexually assaulted as they do not want to re-live the event and will often choose to repress it. However, ultimately this is not the best option psychologically. The earlier that therapy can be undertaken the better.
You may find out that the sexual abuse occurred some time ago, perhaps when they were children, and you can still suggest some professional help. Health professionals and counsellors will know of such services, such as Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Assault – see what is around in your area.