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Avoid these things when talking to a survivor

  •  Minimizing the situation, or making excuses for why this happened. The impact of sexual violence can last a lifetime and be detrimental to both mental and physical health. Their experience or situation should never be minimized, or excused.

  • Doubting what the survivor shares. NEVER question their story. Believe them completely and wholeheartedly, and work with them to find solutions on how to begin their healing.

  • Blaming the victim. Avoid statements like “did you do anything that might have been misinterpreted,” “was there alcohol involved,” “did you say anything back,” “why’d you stay with them,” or “you need to be more assertive.

  • Leading questions or probing for more information. Let the survivor have control over their story, and when to tell it.

  • Making promises you can not keep. Do not promise to be there for them 24/7 if that is not feasible for you. Rather say something like “we will get you the help you need.”

  • Becoming upset or making negative statements about the abuser. They are probably already thinking some of these things, and adding more narrative to their negativity will only have a detrimental effect on their mental health. If they say something negative about the abuser, it is okay to agree.

  • Future casting. Do not tell someone it will get better. We cannot predict the future for someone else, and they will most likely go through hard times as well. Let them know that you are there for them, and that you will work to find resources for them.