Supporting a Survivor
A person who has been victimized often often confides in a person they know and trust before contacting a resource service like UNA Student Counseling Services, Rape Response, SafePlace or the Police. As a faculty, staff member, or friend you have the opportunity to provide the link between that person and additional support and services.
1. Listen non-judgmentally
Listening sympathetically and without judgment establishes a climate of trust and safety. Take the assault seriously and give the survivor every consideration you would for anyone facing a serious life trauma.
Each person will react to an assault, abuse or harassment in his or her own way. You can tell her or him that although the experience was traumatic, recovery and healing are possible, help is available and can make a difference.
LISTENING is NOT: Interrupting, yelling, injecting your feelings, changing the subject, making light of the situation, etc.
2. Maintain Confidentiality
This is essential for both the trust and safety of the survivor. His or her trust has already been violated in a deeply damaging way. Please respect the survivor’s confidences and do not discuss the situation with anyone else without his or her permission.
3. Give Emotional Support
- Affirm that the person did the right thing by coming to you with this information.
- Let the person know that they need to set the pace.
- Don’t press for more information than he or she is comfortable giving.
- Please do not assume that touch will be comforting to a survivors. Ask the survivor before you hug them, hold their hand, etc.
- Help them see that no one ever deserves to be assaulted, abused or harassed. Perpetrators, not victims, are responsible for assault, abuse and harassment.
- Express that you realized this is a difficult thing to share and you appreciate the courage it takes to make the first step toward recovery.
4. Give Personal Support