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How Family and Friends Can Help

  • Overview of Basic Information for Helping Survivors at Any Age or Stage in Healing
  • Listen actively whenever the survivor is ready to talk, but do not push when s/he is not ready.
  • Believe the survivor and accept what happened in a nonjudgmental way.
  • Support the survivor, and encourage her/him to believe that any reaction that allowed survival was the right thing to do.
  • Understand the common responses to sexual violence and help normalize them for the survivor.
  • Recognize the needs expressed by the survivor's behavior and emotions.
  • Support the survivor in finding constructive and adaptive ways of managing responses.
  • Give the survivor control of large and small decisions.
  • Respect the survivor's decision to report or not report the violence to the police. Understand that there are tremendous personal sacrifices involved in prosecuting and many survivors feel unable to make them.
  • Remember that the survivor is more than just a survivor: s/he is a friend, parent, sibling, child, spouse, colleague, etc. Don't forget to engage with her/him in those roles.
  • Reassure the survivor that the assault has not changed their view of her/him.
  • Challenge the survivor regarding any self-injurious or dangerous behavior.
  • Practice good self-care and get professional help to deal with their roles and/or any secondary trauma reactions.

This project was supported by Grant Number VAWA ARRA-2009-KASAP-00034 awarded through the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The Opinions, findings, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women or the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.