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Remember:

• The perpetrator made the decision to commit the crime.

• The victim is not to blame.

• You can give the patience, love and understanding that are crucial to the survivor's recovery

HOW YOU CAN HELP A SURVIVOR

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Knowing some of the things that a survivor may feel, and ways to respond to these feelings, can be helpful for both you and the survivor. If someone you care about has been a victim of rape, molestation, or incest, you may have an emotional reaction to that experience. Your reaction to her/his experience can have a major effect on both of you.


Survivor's Feelings
Survivor's Reactions
Negative Response
Positive Response
Anger

Yell at a loved one
Destructive behavior, for example: drinking or using drugs, not eating, or acting out sexually.

"Don't yell at me, I didn't assault you."
"I want to kill the person who did this to you."

Respond to her/his anger constructively
"I understand you are angry"
"I am sorry this happened to you."

Shame/Guilt
Blaming herself/himself
Crying
Avoiding contact
"Why did you go to that place?"
"You should have known better."
"It's over why can't you just forget it."
Do not ask "why" questions.
"You did everything you could to survive."
"No one deserves to have this happen to them."
"It's not your fault."
Helplessness
Feeling alone and isolated
"I can't do anything to help myself."
"No one is there for me."
"Let me do it, because you will just get upset."
"I know what is best for you, you have to report this to the police."
Give him/her a choice but let him/her make the decisions.
Listen to the survivor
Let the survivor know you are there for him/her.
Lack of Trust
Pulls away from relationships
Questions others' motives
Not keeping promises commitments
"Are you sure you told me everything that happened?"
Be open and honest.
Believe him/her.
"I am not going anywhere."
"I will be here when you need me."

It is all right to share you feelings with the survivor. You may feel angry or helpless about being unable to prevent her/his pain. Find constructive ways to express your anger. Destructively acting out on anger can put you at risk and is not beneficial to the survivor's healing. For example, going out for revenge is more likely to lead to your arrest, and will lead to the survivor suffering the loss of needed support person and further feelings of blame and helplessness.

Remember:

The perpetrator made the decision to commit the crime.

The victim is not to blame.

You can give the patience, love and understanding that are crucial to the survivor's recovery.

Another way to help the survivor is to encourage her/him to seek professional help. She/he is not sick or broken. It is best not to assume responsibility for treating her/him yourself. Treatment specifically designed for survivors is available in your community. Valley Trauma Center is a crisis intervention-counseling center that offers individual and group counseling, referral information and a 24-hour hotline for survivors, family, and friends. If you have questions, please contact our hotline

 



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