Friends and Support People
The first person a survivor shares their story with has the largest impact on how that survivor then heals from the trauma, and we know that many survivors tell a close friend or trusted family member first. We also know that many survivors are met with disbelief or blame when they share their stories, which can be re-traumatizing for survivors. This is why it is important that you know how to best support survivors. The information on this page is a great starting place, and we hope that you continue seeking resources and information on how you can best provide support to the survivors you know.
- Believe what they tell you, and let them know that you believe them.
- Listen when they talk and make them feel comfortable when expressing feelings.
- Validate their feelings. Reassure them that what they did to survive was right for them.
- Offer resources, but support them in whatever choice they make.
- Counteract self-blaming statements.
- Help the survivor build a strong support network.
- Validate their experience and their feelings.
- Let them share as much or as little as they are comfortable with.
- Support the decisions they make around reporting or not reporting.
- Recognize their right to label their experience however feels best for them.
- Make statements that question their experience.
- Invalidate their pain and suffering.
- Get impatient if they don’t immediately “recover”.
- Hold them responsible for the actions of the perpetrator.
- Blame/shame them for having been targeted for sexual abuse or assault in the first place.
- Be judgmental.
- Interrogate them—you are not investigators.
Take care of yourself
Supporting someone who has gone through a traumatic experience can be really difficult for you too. Know that ASAP is here to offer support and resources to you as well. If you have any questions about how to best support someone and how to take care of yourself, please give us a call or stop by our office.
One of the best things you can do to support survivors is educate yourself about gender-based violence and know the resources available. This page is just a starting place, but we have additional information on our website about the different types of gender-based violence and the confidential and non-confidential resources available to survivors both on and off campus. Take the time to read through some of the information provided on this website and reach out to ASAP for further guidance.
Together, we can create an environment in which all survivors are believed and supported.