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Supporting Survivors

Your positive support makes a difference in survivors' healing. In other words, hearing "this is not your fault" and "I believe you" can make the difference on someones healing journey. 

To keep in mind:

  • The only person to blame for an assault is the perpetrator.
  • There is no "right" way or time to heal.
  • During a sexual assault, control of one's body is taken away. In order to heal, survivors often benefit from taking control back. You can help give them back that control by letting them make their own decisions.
  • Recognize your limitations and don't blame yourself.
  • It is normal to hear of a loved one's assault and experience secondary trauma (e.g., vicarious trauma). That is why it is important to take care of yourself and prioritize your well-being for not only you will benefit but you will better be able to support your loved one.


  • Believing them is essential in their healing
  • Don't blame them-- say "this is not your fault."
    • Avoid 'shoulds' and 'coulds' (e.g., "You shouldn't have been drinking!")
  • Let them choose, you can offer options and information
  • Don't make promises that you cannot guarantee (e.g., "This person is not going to get away with this.")
  • If it is possible, offer personal assistance (e.g., place to stay, help with daily activities) 

Other ways to support survivors:

Together we can create a community where survivors feel believed and supported. Below are just some examples of ways survivors can feel your support.  

  • Individual - Read, take classes, watch Ted talks, watch documentaries to educate yourself. Examine your own attitudes about sexual violence
  • Interpersonal - Do you speak with friends and family members about sexual violence?  Do you speak with your team, class, or coworkers about sexual violence?  Can you use teachable moments to discuss consent, boundaries, and healthy relationships?
  • Organization - What does your organization do to provide a safe space for survivors?  Does your organization provide information about resources for survivors? 
  • Community - Are the organizations in your community sending a consistent message that survivors will be believed?   
  • Public Police - consider lobbying for local, state, and federal laws that protect survivors