The first thing you can do to help is to listen and be supportive. Listen without judgment. Talking about what happened can help a survivor/victim regain a sense of control. Let them guide the conversation and when they choose to talk about it.
It is often very difficult for survivors to talk about their experiences and disbelief can cause additional pain. The fear of not being believed is a real concern for people who have experienced an assault or interpersonal violence.
Support the survivor/victim and encourage them to get support. Share the numerous options and resources available. If the survivor seeks medical attention or plans to file a report, offer to be there. Their decisions to report or seek support is the survivor’s alone, but your involvement can be encouraging and positive.
Be respectful of the survivor/victim and their privacy and confidentiality. If you are not a mandatory reporter, it is not your place to share their story without their permission.
Blame the Survivor
Don’t blame a survivor for what happened or make them feel guilty for what happened. It is important to understand that no matter what happened, it is not the survivor’s fault.
Do not criticize or judge how a survivor/victim reacted during or after the assault or related incident — why they stayed in an abusive relationship, whether they said no or not, why they do/do not wish to report the matter. Understand people react differently to situations and they need your support even more following a traumatic incident.
Make Decisions for Them
Don’t force a survivor to do anything they do not want to do. After an assault or harassment, survivors often feel powerless. It is important to empower a survivor to make their own decisions about what do following an incident, including decisions surrounding reporting and seeking help.
Promise Privacy, non-confidentiality.
Beyond your mandatory reporting obligations, do not share the details outside of a need-to-know basis.