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How to Support Victim/Survivor

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When someone you care about tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted, abused, stalked, or sexually harassed, it can be a lot to handle. We encourage you to offer support and brainstorm safety options. Safey looks differently for each person, so allow a victim/survior to determine what will help them be safe.

Your supportive reaction can make all the difference, but that doesn’t mean it comes easy. Encouraging words and phrases can avoid judgment and show support for the victim/survivor. Power and control has been taken away from the victim/survivor of violence, and your ability to give some of that power and control back by giving them time and the ability to make their own choices can help with their long term healing. You can't help a victim/survivor heal by force. Forcing them to do something they aren't ready to do can hinder their long term recovery.

Feel free to contact The Aurora Center for a free and confidential consultation and information that may help you on our 24 hour Helpline at 612-626-9111.

 

Providing Support

 

Helpful Phrases to Support Victim/Survivors 
 

Stages of Trauma

 

Coping with Vicarious/Secondary Trauma: 

Trauma that can occur for support folks who are exposed to and listen to individuals recount their victimization.
 

Faculty/Staff Guide to Crisis Intervention & Responding to Disclosures
 

Instructor Resource: Student Sexual Misconduct Syllabus Language

Continued Support

There’s no timetable when it comes to recovering from sexual violence, relationship violence, and stalking. If someone trusted you enough to disclose the event to you, consider the following ways to show your continued support.
 
Avoid judgment. It can be difficult to watch a survivor struggle with the effects of trauma for an extended period of time. Avoid phrases that suggest they’re taking too long to recover such as, “You’ve been acting like this for a while now,” or “How much longer will you feel this way?”

Trauma is a life long recover process. Check in periodically. The event may have happened a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean the pain is gone. Check in with the survivor to remind them you still care about their well-being and believe their story.

 

Know Your Resources 

You’re a strong supporter, but that doesn’t mean you’re equipped to manage someone else’s health. Become familiar with resources you can recommend to a survivor, like The Aurora Center.

Our 24 hour Helpline is 612.626.9111.

Remember that the healing process is fluid. Everyone has different kinds of days. Don’t interpret flashbacks, bad days, or silent spells as “setbacks.” It’s all part of the process.

Listen! Words from a Survivor