What To Say When Someone Tells You They Were Assaulted

What To Say When Someone Tells You They Were Assaulted

It is hard to know what to say when someone you are close to tells you they were assaulted. Your response at that time can make a difference. Here are some thoughts to consider:

  1. Don’t Judge. Survivors make an outcry when they are psychologically ready to do so. You should not press for details if they are unwilling to share. It is important to say “it’s not your fault.” They may feel ashamed, concerned that they won’t be believed, or worried they’ll be blamed. Leave any “why” questions or investigations to the experts—your job is to provide support. Let the victim control the narrative.
  • Be Affirmative. Acknowledge the trauma. Say the words “I believe you” or “You can trust me.” Victims often blame themselves even if they know the perpetrator. Words matter.
  • Offer Help. Part of victimization is feeling helpless. Offer to accompany them to a Domestic Violence center or go with them to report to law enforcement. The victim might also need help seeking medical support or counseling.
  • Continue to care. Check in with the victim to remind them you still care about their well-being and believe their story.
  • Seek out resources. Become familiar with resources in your community (local Domestic Violence crisis centers) or on-line resources you can recommend such as https://ncadv.org/get-help or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).

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