Three Ways to Support a Family Member or Friend Who is a Survivor of Sexual Assault by Cleveland Rape Crisis Center

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Over the last few months, sexual violence has been elevated to the national conversation in ways we have never seen before.  The #MeToo movement has empowered countless survivors of sexual harassment and abuse to speak their truth and share their experiences, even if perhaps they had never dared before.

 

We all have a role to play in supporting survivors of sexual violence.  And as many survivors are coming forward for the first time, there are ways you can show your support if someone close to you discloses that they, too, are a survivor.

 

When someone you care about confides in you that they have experienced rape or sexual abuse, it can be a challenging conversation.  You may feel that you want to help them, but maybe aren’t sure how, or what to say.

 

Below are three ways to support a friend or family member who is a survivor of rape or sexual abuse.  

 

1.  Simply listen, without judgment or expectations.  

Listen with the intention of listening and giving your loved one space to share what they are ready to share with you in that moment.  What your loved one may need now more than ever is someone to simply listen and validate what they’re experiencing.

Consider saying:

  • “I believe you.”

  • “You are not alone.”

  • “This doesn’t change how I think of you.”

 

2.  Remind them it wasn’t their fault.

Many survivors can place the blame on themselves.  Remind them that they did nothing wrong and that it is the perpetrator that is to blame.  It is never the survivor’s fault that this happened to them.

Consider saying:

  • “It’s not your fault”

 

3.  Encourage your loved one to seek help that is right for them, when and if it is right for them.

Everyone reacts to trauma in their own way.  Your loved one may want to seek help, or may not.  Your loved one has had a traumatic experience that makes them feel powerless.  You can help them understand the options they have and support the decision they make as the right thing for them at that moment.

Consider saying:

  • “Are you open to seeking medical attention?”

  • “Have you thought about learning about your legal options?”

  • “Have you thought about reaching out to a hotline or a therapist for help thinking through your options?”

 

How to Access Help

Text or call Cleveland Rape Crisis Center’s 24/7 Crisis & Support Hotline at (216) 619-6192 or chat online at clevelandrapecrisis.org/chat.  Learn more or request an appointment at clevelandrapecrisis.org.

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  Learn more at clevelandrapecrisis.org.

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