Supporting a Survivor

Listen
  • Do not ask questions about the details of the experience. Just listen.
Believe
  • Believe their story. It will help in their recovery.
  • Remember they may have trouble understanding or remembering what happened to them.
Accept
  • Allow your friend to make their own decisions about what they want to do.
  • Do NOT make the decisions for them.
Validate
 
  • Validate their experience.
  • Communicate to them that it is not their fault under any circumstances, including what they wore, or what they did.
Support

 

  • Find out what they need from you.
  • Talk with them about confidential sources of support and information:
    • Survivor Advocacy and Resource Center
    • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners
    • CAPS counselors

Refer to our page on common reactions for more information.

The truth about sexual violence:
  • It is never the fault of the survivor. Your friend was not assaulted because of something they did or did not do. It has nothing to do with what they were wearing. It has nothing to do with going to a social event. It has nothing to do with not fighting or not saying “no” loud enough.
  • Sexual assault can occur in dating situations, in friendships, and between acquaintances who’ve just met. It happens to people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, cultural identities, ethnicities, ages, and social classes.
  • Sexual assault occurs because there was a person in the room willing to commit sexual or interpersonal violence. A person who was willing to coerce, manipulate, pressure, or overpower your friend in order to hurt them. A person who did not receive their ongoing, freely given consent.

 

MYTH

FACT

Rapes only occur by strangers.

85 percent of all rapes occur by someone the survivor knows.

If the survivor was drinking, it is their fault.

More than 50 percent of all experiences of sexual violence include alcohol and drugs by one or both of the parties. Many rapists will use alcohol and drugs as a weapon to make the survivor more vulnerable.

Rape cannot occur if the people are (or were) dating.

More than half of all rapes occur in a dating or previously dating relationship.

Rape only happens to women.

Sexual violence is about power and domination, and can be experienced by all people, regarding of sexual or gender identity.