A survivor often confides in someone they know and trust before they contact a resource service. As a friend or family member you can provide valuable information about resources and offer emotional support. You may also find Seattle University's resource guide for survivors helpful.
1. Listen non-judgmentally
Listening sympathetically and without judgment establishes a feeling of trust and safety. Take the assault seriously and give the survivor every consideration you would for anyone facing a serious life trauma.
Each person will react to an assault, abuse or harassment in their own way. You can tell them that although the experience was traumatic, recovery and healing are possible; help is available and can make a difference.
Listening is not: Interrupting, yelling, injecting your feelings, changing the subject, making light of the situation, etc.
2. Give Emotional Support
Things you can say:
Things not to say:
Another Note: If you have personal issues that might interfere with your response to this person, it would be better if you expressed your thanks for their trust in you, but let them know that you need to get someone else to help them. Please honor your boundaries while making sure the survivor receives appropriate assistance.
3. Offer Information and Resources
A survivor of sexual violence, relationship violence and stalking is faced with many decisions to make in dealing with their experience such as:
Seeking assistance from any resource must always be the survivors’ choice. There is no one “right” way for a person to respond after they have been assaulted.