Tips for Friends & Family:
BELIEVE THEM. If someone tells you about an experience of domestic violence, rape or sexual abuse, believe them and let them know that you believe them. There is little evidence to show that people create these stories. Many survivors do not tell anyone because of the fear they may not be believed or it would make things worse.
BEWARE OF ABUSER TACTICS.
In domestic violence, many abusers isolate their partners by keeping them away from family support networks, trying to under-mine friendships and creating dependence. In sexual assault, realize that offenders work hard to lower their victim’s defenses and create reasons to blame them for what happened. In both cases, remind them that they are not alone. Support their efforts to reach out to others.
DON’T BLAME THEM. Survivors often blame themselves, so they do not need others to blame them as well. They might think something they did or failed to do is the reason they were assaulted. Help them to understand that while it is sometimes a common reaction to feel guilty, the only one responsible for the assault is the offender.
LISTEN TO THEM. Survivors need to talk about their experiences, sometimes over and over again. Help them vent painful feelings, and let them know you will listen.
EXPRESS YOUR CONCERNS. Without judging, focus on the reality of the situation. You may say, “This injury shows me you are in danger,” “I’m afraid for your,” or “You don’t deserve this.”
RESPECT THEM. People who have experienced domestic or sexual violence are the victim of someone else’s choice, but they are also survivors. They have experienced a life-threatening event and have lived to tell about it. They deserve respect for being alive.