Help a Survivor

What Should I Do?

Often times, it is difficult to know “when” or “if” it is appropriate to reach out to someone you think may be experiencing gender-based violence. Just remember, your support and encouragement can be of tremendous value to a family member or friend involved in an abusive relationship. And it’s always to “meet survivors where they are at” and let them drive the decisions of what they would like to see happen. Abuse takes away choices and voices. Empowerment restores choice and voice.

For example, research shows that sexual assault survivors who receive social support experience more positive outcomes, including positive life change and growth as well as reduced PTSD and depressive symptoms (Borja, Callahan, & Long, 2006; Filipas & Ullman, 2001; Schumm, Briggs-Phillips, & Hobfoll, 2006).

How Can I Help?

  • Listen: Be there. Don’t be judgmental.
  • Be patient: Remember, it may take your loved one some time to deal with the trauma.
  • Help 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 WHW.
  • Offer to accompany her/him wherever she/he needs to go if he/she is willing (hospital, police station, campus security, etc.).
  • Encourage your loved one to contact WHW 24/7 hotline, but realize that only your loved one can make the decision to get help.