When a survivor of sexual assault shares their story with you or confides in you, it can be overwhelming for both parties involved. It’s not always easy to know what to say or how to react when someone shares this information with you. Many times all a survivor wants is just someone to listen to them and show them support by believing them. Here are some helpful phrases or ways to show support to a survivor confiding in you.
1. “I believe you.”
When I came forward to share my sexual assault it was extremely difficult and overwhelming. I felt so many emotions and had many doubts in this process. Hearing these words made things so much easier. It was a relief knowing I had support and people I could confide in and talk to.
2. “It’s not your fault.”
I would often replay the days of my sexual assaults in my head in an attempt to figure out why it happened to me or put blame on myself. Hearing these words and telling myself this phrase is a good reminder to any survivor that their sexual assault was in no way their fault.
3. “You’re not alone.”
If a survivor is coming to you with their story that means that they trust you and feel safe around you. Let them know that they’re not alone and that you’re there for them to listen to and support. Sometimes all we need is just a good friend who has no judgment and doesn’t look at us differently.
4. “I’m sorry you’re going through this.”
Sharing this statement with a survivor lets them know you acknowledged their story and what they went through. This helps show a survivor your empathy towards them and can make them feel less alone and know that they can trust you.
5. Respect their boundaries.
Don’t ask a survivor a million questions when they share their story with you. Ask them what they’re comfortable with when it comes to sharing their story. Don’t pressure them into telling you something they don’t want to. Reliving their sexual assault by answering questions can be very triggering.
6. Check in on them.
A survivor of sexual assault lives with the aftermath forever. No matter how much time has passed since their sexual assault happened, it will is always a part of them. Just random check-ins show them that you still acknowledge what they went through and care. A simple “hey I just wanted to make sure you’re doing okay and to know that I’m always here whenever you need me.” This can really change their day or help them to get something off their chest.
Having a good support system being a sexual assault survivor has made a huge difference in my healing and sharing. It’s nice to know I’m not alone and that I have a group of people I can trust. When a survivor comes to you, just be a person that they count on when needed, cause I promise it will make a big difference for them and their healing.
If you’re a survivor of sexual assault and are having a hard time seeking help you can always contact the sexual assault hotline at 800-656-4673.