Tips for Supporting Survivors

When someone discloses a sexual assault/abusive relationship to you…

  • Allow and encourage the victim to make decisions for themselves whenever possible.

  • Encourage them to share what they’re feeling, but don’t press for details or force a discussion.

  • Communicate your understanding, acceptance, and support.

What to say to someone who has been assaulted…

  • “No one deserves to be assaulted/abused.  This was not your fault. You did not deserve to be sexually assaulted/abused”

  • “Whatever you did to survive the situation was the right thing to do.”

  • “I believe you.shutterstock_561420

  • It was not your fault.  This was something that someone did TO you.”

  • “Regardless of ____________, (how you were dressed, how much you drank, if you were flirting, what you did prior to the sexual assault, etc) there is no excuse for sexual assault.  You did not deserve this.”

  • “That must have been a very unsettling / scary / confusing / uncomfortable / frightening experience.”

  • “You are not crazy.  You are reacting normally to a difficult situation.”

What NOT to say to someone who has been assaulted/abused

  • Why didn’t you leave/yell for help/fight back??

  • How much were you drinking?

  • Are you sure you said no/were clear with the other person?

  • But he/she is such a nice person.  I can’t believe they’d do that

Referring someone to the Women’s Center….

  • I’m glad you told me about this.  I think an advocate from the Women’s Center can help us answer some of these questions.  Would you like me to call one?

  • Advocates are students, staff, and faculty trained to assist someone who has been assaulted by explaining all of the options that you have. They are also trained to understand the reactions that you may experience.  Do you think that would be helpful?

  • An advocate can assist you in getting connected with other services on and off campus to make sure you are getting what you need.

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