Responding To Survivors
Research shows that when survivors disclose their experience to a friend and receive a positive response, they experience faster healing, recovery, and fewer Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms. By understanding the behaviors and attitudes that create a safe, supportive environment for survivors of sexual assault, you can make a difference.
Let your friend know that you care about them and are sorry that this happened. Tell them that you are there to listen and help in any way you can. Thank them for trusting you.
Your friend may be struggling to understand what happened. Show your support by saying something like, “You’re not to blame for what happened to you.”
Pay careful attention to what your friend is sharing with you — avoid distractions (e.g., reading text messages, taking phone calls) and don't question their story.
Provide your friend with the contact information for campus and/or local resources for support without pressuring them to follow up on any of your suggestions.
Allow your friend to make their own decisions about whether or not to seek additional support or report the incident. Say something like, “I respect your decision …”
Healing from this experience usually takes time. Continue to support your friend after they've disclosed to you or made a decision about how to proceed.