How to be Supportive

How to Help?

Given that many sexual assault survivors feel helpless and alone, your support can make a big difference to someone who has been sexually assaulted. This handout for friends & family has some suggestions for being supportive. Below are some quick tips:

  • Let the survivor know that you want to be supportive. It doesn’t matter so much what you say, but more how you listen. Find time to be alone with him or her. Let them talk – don’t interrupt.
  • Let the person know that you care. Give them whatever expression of support that is comfortable for you. Here are some examples that have worked for other people:
    • I cried with my friend.
    • I said “It sounds like you were scared”.
    • I asked if I could hug him, and he said yes.
  • Reassure them that they are not to blame.
  • Let the person control who knows about the sexual assault. Keep whatever they said between the two of you as private as possible.
  • Take care of yourself, too. Hearing about someone else’s traumatic experience is upsetting, and it’s hard to know how to balance your needs and feelings with the survivor’s needs and feelings.

This article from the Pixel Project has other great ideas on supporting survivors.