When someone has survived sexual violence, receiving caring responses from the people around them is crucial to the healing process. It can also help prevent or lessen trauma.
Being a support person is an important role.
If someone discloses to you, it means they look to you as someone who can provide support.
You may hear disclosures on a regular basis, or this may be the first.
You don’t need to be a professional to be there for someone.
Support can take many forms.
Each survivor will have different experiences and needs, so it is important to ask them how they want to be supported.
Some survivors simply want someone to believe them, listen with compassion, and validate their feelings.
If the assault was recent they may want someone to go with them to get medical attention.
Others may want long-term support. This could include checking in regularly, providing emotional support if they report to police, or accompanying them to appointments.
They might not know what they need right away, and that’s okay.
You may not know how much support you are able to provide going forward, and that’s okay too.
For now, just focus on being present and on that person’s immediate needs.
Making this world a better place for those who have survived sexual violence, is a collective effort.