Supporting Someone Who Has Been Harmed

There are many ways you can support someone who discloses an incident of sexual violence to you. The most important thing you can do is listen. It's important that they receive the message that you believe them and that the incident was not their fault. Don't tell them what you think they should do. Instead ask them what they want to do. 

Provide Support

  • honour their account of the event(s)
  • focus on their perspective
  • validate their feelings
  • keep the focus on them and do not talk about your own experiences
  • keep their story confidential

Connect Them with Resources

  • ask them what resources they need or what they need help with
  • let them know about reporting options (Sexual Harassment Office, police) 
  • offer to accompany them to a medical professional
  • help them seek counselling when they're ready

Helpful Phrases

  • I believe you
  • Thank you for telling me
  • What happened to you is not your fault
  • What do you need right now? 
  • What do you need help with? 

There is no right or wrong way for someone to react following an incident of sexual violence. People may react with anger, guilt, fear, disgust, numbness and more. Remember to be aware of and acknowledge your own feelings and judgements. It is important that you support them in the way that they need most as they have the right to control how they cope and what actions they do or do not take. 

Encourage them to review our response guides and to contact us for support. Remind them that the 'three Cs' - confidentiality, control and consent - are very important to us.