DEAR AMY: My friend recently confided in me that she was date raped when she was 15 and had to go to the hospital because she was infected with herpes and had bruises on her wrists. She also said that another girl was also raped by the same guy when they were in school together. She said, "Every time I get a herpes outbreak I get flashbacks to what happened and feel ashamed." She contacted her rapist through Facebook after 17 years of living with this pain and anger. She let him know that what he did was wrong. His response was threatening and harsh. There was no sympathy from him, but in his response he admitted to having sex with my friend and also another 15-year-old. As someone who loves and cares for my friend, I advised her to press charges against him. She said she has to think about it because she doesn't want to relive the pain she had to go through. She has reached out to the other girl, but I don't know where it will go from there. I understand that I cannot report this or press charges. However, as a friend, what do you suggest I do to help her?
DEAR WORRIED: You should direct your friend to contact the sexual assault hotline at RAINN.org. A counselor can talk to her about her legal (and other) options and give her a referral to a local counselor.
It might prove frustrating for you to hear about this rape -- and then to think your friend is not dealing with it the way you think she should.
Confronting her rapist and contacting the other woman all these years later is the start of what could be a long road toward healing for her. She was wise to tell you about this and in the name of friendship you should make sure your door is always open to listen. Don't feel you need to provide unsolicited possible solutions, answers or even ideas. Listening without judgment and offering assistance when asked should be enough. That's friendship's high calling.