RESPONDING TO SURVIVORS

When someone you know trusts you with their experience of abuse, chances are they have been gathering the courage to tell you their story for a while. Informed by the growing field of trauma-informed care, we encourage a trauma-informed response.

WHAT TO DO AND SAY

Trauma-informed response is characterized by promoting safety, empowerment, and healing in a kind and respectful way.

  1. Believe them.
  2. Listen to them. Sit quietly and listen actively. You don’t need to jump directly to fixing things.
  3. Validate them with statements like:
    • “Thank you for sharing your experience with me.”
    • “I am so sorry this happened to you.”
    • “This is not your fault.”
  4. Let them lead and help them in the way they are asking you to.
  5. Be aware of their comfort; for example, offer a blanket or a glass of water. Sit with them, don’t hover or stand over them.
  6. Be informed. Be aware of resources that might help and how to report abuse if needed. If the abuse is recent or a child tells you he or she has been sexually abused, dial 911 or the child abuse hotline in your state. How to Report Abuse

MORE INFORMATION

The links below help further explain how to respond in a trauma-informed way.

What to Do When a Friend Says I Was Abused as a Child – The Worthy Adversary blog

10 Things Never to Say to Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse – Awake Milwaukee