Supporting a Loved One

Whether you are a parent, friend, spouse, partner, or other family member, you can be a pivotal force in your loved one’s recovery from sexual assault.

  • Tell her/him you believe them.
  • Be supportive and thank that person for sharing their experience.
  • Tell her/him it was not their fault.
  • Listen, Listen, Listen.
  • Focus on the survivor’s emotions, not on actual facts about the assault.
  • Do not accuse or judge your loved one.
  • Gently encourage the survivor to report the assault, but respect her/his decision if they choose not to.
  • If you are their partner, do not pressure them for sex.
  • It is normal to feel enraged that someone hurt your loved one, but the focus should remain on the survivor’s emotions.
  • Although it may be difficult, try not to over-protect your loved one.
  • Encourage them to seek professional counseling.
  • Do not pretend the assault never happened.
  • Remember even if the assault or abuse happened a long time ago, you could be the first person they have told. Your reaction will have a big impact on them.

Do you have an LGBTQ survivor in your life? Here’s a wonderful resource from the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs to learn about sexual violence in the queer community and the particular barriers facing LGBTQ survivors. Click here to download Setting The Stage: Strategies for Supporting LGBTIQ Survivors.