Sexual Assault is an Extremely Personal Experience that Many People May Never Choose to Disclose to Anyone Else.
If a survivor shares their story with you, your reaction can impact whether they share their story in the future.
Here are some powerful ways to support a sexual assault survivor:
- Believe them.
- Acknowledge their courage in sharing their story. It takes a great deal of courage and trust to share the personal experience of sexual assault with another person. Many people never share their story for fear of not being believed.
- Listen without questions: As allies, it is not our job to prove or disprove their story. Let them know that they are not alone and that there is help and support available.
- Empathize and normalize their feelings.
- Be non-judgemental and keep their private information safe.
Listen to them and their needs. Not everyone has the shared experience of sexual assault, but we all have experiences that have caused us pain and trauma. Treat them the way you want to be treated in your moments of pain and trauma. Remember, everyone reacts differently to trauma like sexual assault.
Share compassion: avoid blaming, shaming, or accusing someone of not reacting “like a victim.” For more on this, click HERE
- Offer to help by connecting them to local resources.
- Empower them in making their own decisions about what resources they want to connect with.
- Help them explore any immediate safety concerns such as seeking medical care.
- Assist them in identifing resources close to them (like us) with experts who support sexual assault survivors. If they choose to contact those resources, stay with them through this process. Once they are connected to Advocates, our staff and support team can go along with them to appointments with medical providers, law enforcement or other responders. For more click HERE
- Support their agency: avoid pushing them towards reporting to law enforcement or disclosing details. It is important for the individual to reassert their right to self determination after the trauma of sexual assault.