Educate yourself. Before you say things like, “Why didn’t you come forward sooner?” I highly recommend you read up on topics such as secondary victimization, victim shaming, re-traumatization and PTSD. One of the best books I’ve read on the topic is The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. The psychology of each (more or less) is layer upon layer of stigmatization, shame, sexual taboos and institutionalized misogyny — to name a few. Truthfully, it deserves its own essay, but all you need to understand is: Even 20 years later it’s hard. There’s no good time. It’s always traumatic to come forward…

Resist the urge to white knight. Without fail, almost every man I’ve been dating when I’ve told him about my rape has launched into, “Did he get prosecuted? Who is this asshole? Where is he? I’m gonna fucking kill him.” I give men the benefit of the doubt on this one because I know you want to get angry and the response is appropriate. Also, I get it, you want to show me how tough you are and how much you really care.

But when you’re all fired up and enraged, I’m suddenly taking care of your emotions. I’m calming you down. I’m appeasing you. I’m answering questions I don’t want to answer. Step outside of yourself when you’re feeling reactive and keep repeating the mantra, “This isn’t about me. This isn’t about me. This isn’t about me.”