How To Be a Support

When someone you care about tells you that they have been sexually assaulted, it can be hard to hear. You may be unsure how to respond or unsure if you can help at all, but you can. Being supportive and understanding can provide a lot of comfort for someone who has just been through something traumatic. By listening without judgement and blame, you can give someone a chance to heal. If someone has chosen to confide in you, here are some tips on how you can be most supportive:

  • Listen without judgement or blame
  • Don’t rush to provide a solution
  • Accept them and support their decisions moving forward
  • Help them make their own decisions
  • Believe them and let them know it’s not their fault
  • Encourage them to trust themselves
  • Offer to go with them to a DV/SA resource center, the police station, or the hospital (if they want)
  • Understand that the healing process is different for everyone, and may take some time
  • Check in periodically and continue to be supportive every step of the way
  • Listen with compassion and acceptance
  • Encourage self-care
  • Respect their privacy
  • Know your resources (National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.4673 or Independence House Hotline: 800.439.6507)

Supportive phrases to use from rainn.org:

  • “I’m sorry this happened.”
  • “It’s not your fault.”
  • “I believe you.”
  • “You are not alone.”
  • “You can trust me.”
  • “This doesn’t change how I think of you.”
  • “I’m so glad you are sharing this with me.”

For more information on how to be supportive of someone who has been sexually assaulted, visit janedoe.org, rainn.org, nnedv.org, and ncdsv.org.

-IH Intern

 

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