For a survivor of sexual violence, the way their whānau and friends react to their experience may influence how they recover. Some people may blame the survivor for what has happened.
The survivor can be sensitive to other people’s reactions and the survivor may not tell anyone of their experience, fearing the possible consequences of their reactions.
REMEMBER: The survivor is not to blame.
A survivor may feel powerless, guilty, shameful, fearful, angry, sad or depressed. They may blame themselves at times. These reactions are common.
Everyone is different and copes with trauma differently. There is no ‘one way’ to feel. There is also no time limit on a survivor's healing process.
Any of these reactions may occur months or even years following an experience of sexual violence. A healing process is not linear. It is important that the survivor knows that you love, support and care for them.
Urge or force the survivor to go to the Police. This decision is for the survivor to make when/if they are ready
Question the survivor about their experience. This could feel invalidating
Urge the survivor to forget about or hide the experience
Blame the survivor. It is never the survivor's fault
Express the want to cause harm to the perpetrator. It will not help the survivor’s recovery process.
Show your support, care and affection. There are many ways to do this; however, touch may not be most appropriate
Allow the survivor to regain control over their life and make their own decisions
Treat them no differently than before. Continue to live the way you always have, providing stability and security
Be willing to listen if they want to talk. Do not force them to talk if they do not want to. They may feel more comfortable talking to someone else just now. That is okay too.
The most important things to do areLISTEN, BELIEVE and SUPPORT.
If someone you know and are close to, such as a whānau member or friend, has experienced sexual violence, it is common to feel disbelief, guilt, helplessness and anger. You may want to talk to someone about your feelings and how you can best help.
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Things Not To Say To A Survivor of Sexual Assault
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