Giving Support. What to do?

How to Help.

The courage it takes for a survivor to speak must be recognised and praised. It takes a great deal of courage to face up to fears and also to talk about any sexual experience.

Remember that you don’t need to be an expert, many people supporting someone who has been affected by sexual violence are afraid of doing ‘the wrong thing.’ The things you need to offer to a survivor are your encouragement, your respect and most importantly your ears to listen.

A woman whose story has not been believed by others may find it very difficult to trust anyone else and may resist talking about their experiences. Do not take this as you not being ‘good enough’ to trust, be patient and encourage her GENTLY, do not push her. If you feel the need to press her, ask yourself why YOU ‘need to know’ now. Her apparently frozen state will not last forever.

Let the survivor stay in control: Sexual violence can make a woman feel powerless and out of control. Survivors need to feel they can be in charge of their lives again. Therefore, it is important that you resist the very natural temptation to take over by arranging and doing things that you think are best. Instead let her talk and help and support them in their decisions.

Listen -What she has to say may not be easy, let her take her time. The event may have been kept silent for a very long time. Understand it may be difficult for her because the abuser might have told her not to say a word about it.

Believe - People rarely lie about rape or sexual abuse. Why would they? It is important to believe what she is saying.

Respect - Both her feelings and decisions. If she feels like crying, let her, it can be part of her healing process.

Remember - It is not her fault – no-one asks to be abused or deserves it and she cannot be blamed for not preventing the sexual violence. The blame lies with abuser.

Perhaps you might feel like you need support?
Call our Helpline (Wednesday 7:00pm -9:00pm. Saturday 10:00am-12noon). Or email us for any questions or for your own well-being.


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