Supporting a Survivor

Quick Tips When Helping Survivors

Supportive Measures

Common Harmful Mishaps

Practice self-care.

Believe the survivor.

Acknowledge their bravery in disclosing/sharing.

Actively listen, support and express care.

Judgement and asking a lot of questions, especially "Why?"

"Is that what really happened?"

"Why didn't you tell me earlier?"

"Are you okay?"

"Why did (or didn't you...)?"

Offer/remind survivor of options, resources.

Be honest about how you can help, including mandated reporting. 

Explicit & implicit blame.

Cold or doubtful demeanor. 

Allow moments of silence. Be patient.

Validate their feelings and experiences.

Remember trauma-informed response, STE-CCC: safety, trust, empowerment, choice, collaboration & cultural relevance 

Making excuses for the perpetrator or the harmful incident(s).

Physical contact (hugs, shoulder touch/rub) without consent.

Consider these phrases (RAINN, 2016):
"I'm sorry this happened to you."
"It's not your fault."
"I believe you."
"You are not alone."

Minimizing the survivor's feelings and experiences. 

Telling the survivor what they must or should do, or what you would do.


(RAINN, 2016; NRCJIW, 2014; SAMHSA, 2014)