It’s not always easy to know what to say or do when someone tells you they’ve faced sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking. It can be especially difficult when that person is a friend or family member. By acting with thoughtful understanding and support, you can help to minimize the trauma. Here are some basic responses that can be helpful.
- Let the survivor know that you love and support them.
- Listen without judgment.
- Do not blame the survivor, regardless of the circumstance. Don’t suggest that the survivor was at fault for decisions he or she made.
- Encourage the survivor to get support. Share resources like local sexual assault crisis centers or a variety of other organizations you can find on this website.
- Do not press for details of the assault.
- Remember that there are a variety of ways survivors may react – there is no right or wrong way to manage trauma.
- Make sure that any feelings of anger or helplessness you may be feeling don’t get conveyed as anger toward the survivor.
- Be patient and remember that there is no timetable to recover from trauma.
- Assure the survivor that you will endure this crisis with them and that your love and friendship will remain intact.
Click here for the Rape Recovery Center's free "Guide for Family and Friends of a Sexual Assault Survivor"