Tips for Talking with Survivors of Sexual Assault

: Tips for Talking with Survivors of Sexual Assault

Sexual assault in itself is already a sensitive issue and survivors may have a hard time
speaking about what had happen to them.

When anyone speaks up about their story, we should always be empathic to them and avoid
any judgment. It can be hard to speak out but when survivors let their voice out, we should
always side with them and give them our support.

Support of course comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be as simple as being a shoulder to cry
on or to be an ally if they ever advocate to speak up against sexual violence. One can also
give support to survivors by helping them reach out to medical professionals, psychiatric health
workers or even crisis support groups.

What is important is that what one say to them does not invalidate the survivor’s voices. The
RAINN’s (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) National Sexual Assault Hotline staff has
a few recommended verbatim that you can use when talking with a survivor. Here are some.

“I believe you.”

Survivors would think that no one will believe them should they ever speak up about their
story. It is important to let them know that there are people that will side with them and
believe that what they are saying is the truth.

“It took a lot of courage to tell me about this.”

Not all survivors will have the courage to speak up and tell anyone about what had happened
to them. Letting them know that there are people who are there o see how courageous they
are by stepping up and voicing out what happened will give them encouragement.

“It’s not your fault. / You didn’t do anything to deserve this.”

Some survivors may tend to blame themselves for their sexual assault. Thoughts like, “if I had
not worn this dress this would not happen”, “if I had just not drunk that vodka/beer…”, “if I just
stayed at home…” runs in their head over and over again. We have to let them know that it will
never be their fault. Rape exists because of rapists and survivors are never to be blamed.

“You are not alone. / I care about you and am here to listen or help in any way I can.”

Being victimized through sexual assault may be isolating to some survivors. Aside from the
thought like no one will believe them or the self-blaming, survivors must know that they are not
alone in their fight and in their healing. Saying these lines can assure them that someone will
be there to always listen or help them as they heal from their trauma.

“I’m sorry this happened. / This shouldn’t have happened to you.”

A simple acknowledgement that what had happened has affected the survivor’s life goes a
long way. This would mean that what they feel and what has happened is not inundated in
any way.

Aside from these phrases, we of course as allies of sexual assault survivors will always
continue to support them. We can do this by removing all our judgment, checking in with
them from time to time and even help them with getting the resources they need.

Some of these resources may be the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.HOPE (4673) or
helping them with finding a sexual assault attorney should they wish to file a case against heir
perpetrator.

Morgan Legal Group P.C is an ally and we have sexual assault lawyer in NYC that will
listen to survivors and give them legal advice.

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