Family and Friends
How to Help a Survivor
- Listen. Be there. Don’t be judgmental.
- Be patient. Remember, it may take your loved one some time to deal with the crime.
- Help to empower your loved one. Sexual assault and domestic violence are crimes that take away an individual’s power, it is important not to compound this experience by putting pressure on your loved one to do things that he or she is not ready to do yet.
- Let your loved one know that help is available through Women Helping Women.
- If your loved one is willing to seek medical attention or report to the police, offer to accompany him or her wherever she/he needs to go (hospital, police station, campus security, etc.).
- Encourage him or her to contact one of the hotlines, but realize that only your loved one can make the decision to get help.
When the crimes of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking occur, the survivor is not the only person affected. The survivor’s family members, friends and partners often express the same emotions, concerns and questions as the survivor. These feelings might include anger, shock and/or confusion.
You can play a crucial role in the healing process of a survivor of sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking. Remember that exposure to this trauma can be overwhelming and confusing for both you and the survivor. Dealing with your feelings of frustration, anger, helplessness, guilt and maintaining supportive relationships of your own, will allow you to help someone else more effectively.
You may find it helpful to participate in treatment or seek assistance for yourself. Women Helping Women supports not only those who have experienced sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking, but also their loved ones.
Family & Friends: Teen Dating Violence
How to Help for Loved Ones
The reality is 1 in 3 high school relationships involve abuse. Abuse can be emotional, physical and/or sexual. Roughly 70% of high school females in abusive relationships never tell anyone. Recognizing the warning signs and seeking help is very important in ending the abuse.
Family (Loved Ones)
There are many barriers a survivor faces, and as a loved one it’s important that you are there to offer your unconditional support, keeping the lines of communication open. If you notice your teen’s behavior has changed, or recognize red flags in their dating relationship, understand that more than anything your loved one needs positive support and encouragement. Everyone is entitled to be treated equally in their relationship; reaffirm this to them. Let them know that any type of abusive behavior is not okay, and that regardless of the circumstance, they never deserve to be abused. Reiterate the healthy qualities of a relationship and the importance of healthy communication. Let them know that they have many resources if they need help, and you are there to listen.
How to Help for Friends
If you believe your friend may be experiencing red flags in their relationship, encourage them to get help. Understand it must be their decision to end the relationship, not yours. People in abusive relationships face many barriers, which is why it isn’t an easy decision for them to leave. Empower your friend with choices, and offer them your unconditional support. You may be the only person they trust and confide in. Let them know that you believe them, and the abuse is in no way their fault or deserved! If your gut-level feeling tells you their life is endangered by their abusive partner, immediately contact a trusted adult: counselor, youth leader, teacher, etc., or call Women Helping Women at our 24-Hour Crisis Line at 513-381-5610, Toll-Free 1-888-381-5610 or TTY 513-977-5545.
- Fear for safety
- Fear of getting in trouble with one’s parents
- Fear of not being believed
- Fear of what’s being told won’t be kept confidential
- Fear of change
- Fear of being alone
- Not knowing where to get help