The rape of a partner or friend can be a difficult experience for both partners and friends of rape survivors. To some degree, partners and close friends are also victimized by the assault. they may feel a range of emotions, including rage, disgust, and helplessness. they may also be confused and unsure about how to react to a lover’s or friend’s victimiza­tion. this confusion can prove painful for all concerned because reactions of partners and friends can profoundly affect a rape survivor’s recovery. In the following list, we suggest ways to communicate and interact with a rape victim to help her recover from this traumatic experience. Some of these suggestions are adapted from two excellent books: Sexual Solutions (1980), by Michael Castleman, and "Friends" Raping Friends: Could It Happen to You? (1987), by Jean Hughes and Bernice Sandler. Although we will fre­quently refer to the victim as female, our recommendations are equally applicable to male rape survivors.

1. Listen. probably the most important thing a person can do to help a rape victim begin recovering is to listen to her. a person comforting a rape survivor might under­standably try to divert her attention from the terrible event. however, professionals who work with survi­vors of sexual assault have found that many victims need to talk repeatedly about the assault to come to terms with it. A partner or friend can help by encourag­ing her to discuss the rape as often as she can, in any way that she can.

2. Let her know you believe her account of what hap­pened. A rape survivor needs to be believed by people she loves or feels close to. Consequently, it is essential to accept her version of the assault without question­ing any of the facts. A simple statement, such as "What you describe is an intolerable violation, and I am so sorry that you had to endure such a dreadful experi­ence," will convey both your acceptance of her account and your empathy with her pain.

3. Let her know that it was not her fault and that she is not to blame. Many victims of rape believe that they were somehow responsible for the attack ("I should not have invited him to my home" "I should have tried to fight him" or the like). Such impressions can lead to profound feelings of guilt. Self-blame is predictive of more severe PTSD symptoms and less successful recovery (Najdowski & Ullman, 2009). Try to head off these damaging self-recriminations by stating clearly and calmly, "I know that you are not to blame for what happened" or "You are the victim here and not respon­sible for what happened to you"

4. Control your own emotions. The last thing a rape survivor needs is the response of the partner who gets

sidetracked by focusing attention on his or her own anger or imagined shortcomings ("I should have been along to protect you"). She has just been victimized by a violent man (or men), and being confronted with her own partner’s or friends’ outbursts will not help her regain control.

5. Give comfort. A rape victim is urgently in need of com­fort, especially from someone she loves or cares about. She may want to be held, and the nurturing comfort

of being encircled by the arms of someone she trusts may provide a powerful beginning to the process of healing. On the other hand, she also may not want to be touched at all. Respect that wish. Words can also be quite nurturing. Simply being told "I love you very much and will be here for you in any way that is right for you" may offer a great deal of welcome comfort.

6. Allow the victim to make decisions. A rape survivor may recover more quickly when she is able to decide for herself how to deal with the assault. Making her own decisions about what should be done after a rape is an important step in regaining control over her life after having been stripped of control by her attacker(s). Asking some open-ended questions (see Chapter 7) may help her regain control. Questions might include, "What kind of living arrangements for the next few days or weeks would you be comfortable with?" or "What can I do for you now?" Sometimes suggesting alternatives can be helpful. For example, while encour­aging her to take some type of positive action, you might ask, "Would you like to call the police, go to a hospital, or call a rape hotline?" Remember, the deci­sion is hers and one that needs to be respected and not questioned even if you do not agree with it.

7. Offer shelter. If she does not already live with you, offer to stay with her at her home, have her stay with you, or assist her in securing other living arrange­ments with which she is comfortable. Again, this is her choice to make.

8. Continue to provide support. In the days, weeks, and even months following the rape, partners and friends can continue to offer empathy, support, and reassur­ance to a rape survivor. They can encourage her to resume a normal life and be there for her when she feels particularly vulnerable, fearful, or angry. They can take time to listen, even if it means hearing the same things over and over again. If her assailant is prose­cuted, she is likely to need support and understanding throughout the often arduous legal proceedings.

9. Be patient about resuming sexual activity. Resuming sexual activity after a rape may present problems for both the victim and her partner. Rape may precipitate

rape of women, violence and power are often associated with the sexual assault of men. The possibility of being raped is a serious issue among male homosexuals because they are often the victims of such attacks. Although homosexual men are frequently raped by heterosexual men, the rapist is often a homosexual man who is a current or former sexual partner (Hickson et al., 1994; Walker et al., 2005).

Rape of inmates in penal institutions is a serious problem (Bell, 2006; Hensley et al., 2003; Richters et al., 2010). One comprehensive survey of almost 2,000 male inmates in seven prisons found that 21% had been sexually threatened or assaulted and 7% acknowledged being raped (Struckman-Johnson & Struckman-Johnson, 2000). Men who do the raping typically consider themselves heterosexual. When released, they usu­ally resume sexual relations with women. The men who are raped often experience bru­tal gang assaults. Such a man may become the sexual partner of one particular dominant inmate for protection from others (Braen, 1980).

If a man is forced to penetrate someone’s vagina, anus, or mouth with his penis, this is also classified as rape (McCabe & Wauchope, 2005). Accounts of men being sexually coerced by women who use threats of bodily harm have been reported with increasing frequency (Kassing et al., 2005). The idea that mature males can be raped by women has been widely rejected because it has been assumed that a man cannot function sexually in a state of extreme anxiety or fear. However, this common impression is not accurate. Alfred Kinsey and his associates were perhaps the earliest sex researchers to note that both sexes can function sexually in a variety of severe emotional states. Sexual response during sexual assault, particularly if orgasm occurs, may be a source of great confusion and anxiety for both female and male rape survivors.

Sexual assault of males also occurs during war. However, men as victims of wartime rape and sexual assault have received only scant media coverage and limited research attention. Among the few studies in this area are investigations of male sexual assault during wars in Greece (Lindholm et al., 1980), El Salvador (Agger & Jensen, 1994), and Croatia (Medical Center for Human Rights, 1995). The widespread belief that only females can be victimized by sexual assault has led many national legal systems to bury the issue of wartime male sexual assault under the more generalized categories of torture or abuse (Carlson, 1997). However, awareness that men also can be victim­ized was expanded when the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia reported that many men were raped or otherwise sexually assaulted during the conflict in that region (Carlson, 1997).