Supporting a Friend or Loved One

Many times, survivors will disclose to friends, family, and partners. While it can be difficult to hear about a loved one experiencing sexual violence, knowing how to respond to this disclosure will help your friend in their journey and will help keep you safe as you become a helper. 

Say Thank You & Believe 

Saying, “thank you for telling me” acknowledges how difficult it can be for a survivor to disclose. Also, sharing that you believe a survivor can be validating and builds trust.

Practice Active & Empathetic Listening  

Being an active listener allows your friend or loved one to make the space and conversation what they wish it to be. Allowing a survivor to control the space, including the disclosure, can be a key to empowering them as they move forward. 

Be Aware of Space 

Check-in with your friend or loved one about where you are having this conversation. Make sure that the space is private and comfortable for the survivor. 

Be Informed of On & Off-Campus Resources 

Presenting options to a survivor helps that person maintain agency. While you can’t make decisions for a survivor, you can help them research possible next steps on-campus or in the community.

Empower Your Friend/Loved One 

Support and respect a survivor’s decisions, even if a survivor chooses to do nothing. 

Ask What You Can do to Help 

Sometimes, it is hard to know what to say to a survivor, especially when there is silence. When in doubt, ask how you can help. 

Know When to Reach Out for Support 

As a friend or loved one, you can be a tremendous support for a survivor. SAPRS can also provide services and consultation to you as a friend or loved one, too. We want to make sure that you have the help that you need in order to ensure your wellness. 

Respect Privacy 

Your survivor trusted you with their experience, remember that the survivors privacy is imperative.

Practice Self-Care  

Remember to take time to practice self-care. This may mean adding 5-minutes of mindfulness to your morning, taking a yoga class, or connecting with services.