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Supporting Survivors: A Practical Guide for a Compassionate Response

It can be challenging to know how to respond when someone you love discloses sexual abuse or assault. Here are practical tips for responding in a compassionate and empowering way, supporting the survivor along their healing journey. Be sure to check out our infographic for quick reference.


The Power of Empathy. Empathy is the cornerstone of an effective and compassionate response. Acknowledge the survivor’s emotions without judgment; your validating presence can be a powerful source of comfort. Take time to listen actively and without interruption, creating a safe space for them to express their feelings. For more on empathy, watch this short Brené Brown video.


How to Support Survivors. Explore our "How to Support Survivors" infographic, a quick-reference guide covering key principles like listening without judgment, respecting choices, and offering validation. Remember, simplicity can be a powerful ally in offering support.

Principles to Support Survivors of Sexual Violence: Listen, Respect Choices, Avoid Blame, Validate, Privacy, Resources

Understanding Common Reactions. Recognizing that individuals respond uniquely to trauma is crucial. Common reactions might include shock, denial, or difficulty trusting others. Approach conversations with patience, recognizing that the survivor's experience is multifaceted and involves different aspects.


Recovery Is Not Linear. Healing is a non-linear journey. Progress may be slow, and setbacks are normal. Consistent, nonjudgmental support is essential. Check-in regularly, offering your presence as a steady support system, and understand that your role is not to fix but to listen and be there.


Safety Planning. Safety planning is a practical tool for survivors. Collaborate with them to create a plan that enhances their safety and well-being. Ensure they are aware of local resources, helplines, and support networks. A comprehensive safety plan empowers survivors to navigate challenges. For more in-depth guidance, read RAINN’s article on Safety Planning.


In supporting survivors, your consistent presence matters. Be there with a listening ear, check in regularly, and offer respect. Share this guide to spread awareness and start conversations that make a positive difference in the journey of survivors. Your support is a powerful force for healing.


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Thanks for that useful info

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