What would you say if someone in your personal life or in your workplace told you that they had been raped or sexually assaulted?
Take the #IBelieve pledge and pledge to believe survivors in your life. What would you say if someone in your personal life or workplace told you that they had been raped or sexually assaulted? Knowing how to respond is critical. A negative response can worsen the trauma and foster an environment where perpetrators face no consequences for their crimes. As a friend, family member, or colleague, it is not your burden to act as the investigator, judge, or jury for a survivor who discloses their assault. Your role is only to provide support and empathy, and that starts by believing. Take our pledge to believe the survivors in your life.
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If someone in your life tells you that they have experienced sexual assault/ abuse, it's essential to recognize that they hold you in a position of trust. It is difficult to disclose this type of personal trauma; doing so reflects your importance in their life. They are hoping you will support them. If you don't respond in an affirming way, they will likely never tell anyone else about what happened to them or report to the police.
Survivors often blame themselves for the violence they experienced, but it is not their fault regardless of the circumstances. The responsibility of any sexual assault lies with the perpetrator. Don't feel like you have to fix or repair what happened because you cannot undo the harm caused. Your loving support is the best thing you can offer.
We recommend that you stay calm, express empathy, and be willing to listen. It's that simple. If you are not sure what to do from there, refer the survivor to RISE. Our crisis and support line is available 24/7, 365 days a year, and support is available in most languages. You are also welcome to call to learn how to support the survivor or to ask questions. Reach us at 855-886-RISE (7473).
To learn more about the End Violence Against Women: Start By Believing campaign visit: https://www.startbybelieving.org/