When someone we care about is a victim of domestic or sexual violence, it can be challenging to know how to help. You can start by listening, believing, offering choices, and getting information (link to info) and resources. We are also here to help you. You can also contact us for further information.
If someone you care about has been recently assaulted, physically or sexually, it is important that they are aware of their legal, medical and safe housing options. Read more here for the steps to take. One of the most supportive actions you can do is to accompany them through any steps they choose to take, including calling our 24 Hour Hotline with them.
Tips for Supporting Survivors
- Listen. This is a very powerful action and can provide comfort and a sense of safety for a person who has just experienced violence. Actively acknowledge what you are hearing and if you don’t understand, ask them to clarify.
- Believe. Survivors of domestic and sexual violence rarely make up stories about abuse and letting them know you believe them can help them feel heard.
- Don’t assume how they feel. No one experiences an assault the same way. Let them tell you how they are feeling and what they are thinking. Ask, “How can I help you?”
- Do not blame the victim. Domestic and Sexual violence are never the victim’s fault. Reassure them the person responsible is the one who assaulted them. Avoid asking “why” questions as they can feel blaming.
- Do not take over. Sometimes we try to help by trying to “fix” the situation but this can feel overwhelming for the victim. Remember these forms of violence take away a person’s sense of control over their body. Letting the survivor make decisions about how to proceed can help them feel back in control.
- Respect their privacy. Do not share information about their abuse without permission. If you are in a professional role that requires you to report the abuse, tell them and explain why and who you will be talking to.
- Take care of yourself. Domestic and sexual violence impact you as well. To be most helpful to your friend or loved one you need a space to talk about your feelings and it is not their job to help you with this. We are here to support you too. Call our 24 Hour Hotline for support.