Prevention and Advocacy

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Supporting Someone Affected by Sexual or Gender-Based Violence

Below are some suggestions about how to support someone affected by sexual or gender-based violence. They are only suggestions and serve as examples. Remember: believe them, listen to them, and speak from your heart.

Things to do:

  • Assure them it is not their fault
  • Suggest they talk to someone
  • Assure them that they are not alone
  • Be sensitive of their need for privacy
  • Stay calm and be patient
  • Offer to go with them to report the incident
  • Use active listening skills

Things to avoid:

  • Avoid asking questions out of curiosity
  • Try not to express shock, disgust, anger, or judgment
  • Do not press for details
  • Do not minimize, deny, or blame them
  • Try not to touch them without their permission
  • Do not put word in their mouth or tell them how they are feeling
  • Do not make decisions for them
  • Avoid making promises or guarantees (“you’re going, to be fine,” or “your family will be supportive”)

For more tips on how to respond to a survivor, visit RAINN.