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Give support

You don't need to be an expert in order to support someone who has experienced sexual violence, and it's okay to not have all the answers.

If you have any questions on how to support an individual who has experienced sexual violence and ensure they are treated with dignity and respect, contact a Support Worker.

Ideas on how to give a supportive response

  • Listen
    • Be an active listener when someone discloses to you, and do not ask about additional details. Respect what they are willing to share with you.

  • Thank them for sharing with you
    • Thank the individual for being comfortable sharing and disclosing their experience to you. 

  • Believe
    • Tell the individual that it is not their fault and that you believe them.

  • Empathize
    • Practice empathy. Understand that this person is sharing a traumatic experience with you, and validate what they are going through.

  • Ask if there are ways you can support them

Things to avoid doing

  • Victim blaming 
    • Survivors should never be held responsible for acts of sexual violence, under any circumstance. This includes asking things like "What were you wearing?", or "How much did you have to drink?".
  • Sympathizing with the offender 
    • Avoid saying things that could justify the perpetrator's actions as this will dehumanize and invalidate a survivor.
  • Criticizing the survivor's actions
    • Survivors are in the best position to define their own needs. It is invalidating to question or criticize a survivor's actions before,during, and after experiencing sexual violence.
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