How to Help a Family Member

How to Help a Family Member

The initial reactions of responders can play a key role in the victim’s perception
of the event and the likelihood that they will stay involved in the university system.
How to Help a Friend | How to Help a Student | How to Help a Family Member

If someone you care about is sexually assaulted, stalked, or experiencing other forms of interpersonal violence, you might feel angry, confused, and helpless. Have comfort in knowing that there are several things you can do to help in the healing process that support your loved one’s needs. Providing a family member with an attentive ear and a supportive shoulder to lean on can make all the difference in the world for someone who has been harassed, abused, or assaulted. When a person is sexually assaulted, keep in mind that many victim-survivors feel as though their power has been taken away from them. As you are helping, allow them to maintain control over what happens next.

Support for Victim-Survivors

  • The SAIV-RT provides guidance to allies and victim-survivor support systems.
  • The SAIV-RT helps victims-survivor make a contact with any of the services for medical support and police response.
  • The SAIV-RT provides assistance with legal procedures.
  • The SAIV-RT connects victim-survivor with a counselor from Counseling and Psychological Services and/or the Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Eastern Connecticut.
  • The SAIV-RT works with the Dean of Students to accommodate academic and employment relief.

Believe the Victim-Survivor Unconditionally

  • Let them know that you want to listen, and then do so.
  • Listen attentively and let them talk without interruption.
  • Show interest in what they say by sitting close and facing them.
  • Accept what you hear without any judgment.

Reinforce That the Incident is Not Their Fault

  • Sexual assault is never the survivor’s fault.
  • It is important not to ask “why” questions such as, as this suggests that they are to blame for the assault.

Understand That You Cannot Control How the Survivor Feels

  • Everyone reacts differently to sexual assault and will heal at their own pace.
  • It is important that you not assume you know how they are feeling.
  • Almost any reaction is possible and completely normal.

Be a Good Listener and Be Patient

  • Let the survivor know you are there for them when they are ready to talk.
  • If the survivor wants to talk about the assault with you, do not push for information.
  • Let them tell you what they are comfortable sharing in their own time.

Help the Victim-Survivor Regain a Sense of Control

  • Realize that during an assault or stalking incident, power has been taken away from them.
  • Support decisions and choices that they make without passing judgment.
  • Try not to tell the victim-survivor what to do.
  • Assist them by presenting options and resources for them to make the decision that’s right for them.

Respect the Victim-Survivor’s Needs for Privacy

  • If the survivor needs to be alone, respect that decision.

Do not suggest that the survivor “move on” with their life and forget about the assault.

  • The survivor needs the opportunity to work through the trauma of the assault and begin the healing process.

Respect the survivor’s right to decide whether or not to report the assault to the police.

  • If your loved one is willing to seek medical attention or report the assault, offer to accompany him or her wherever he/ she needs to go: (hospital, police station, etc.)

Remember to take care of yourself.

  • Seek support if you need it.
  • You will be better able to support the survivor.


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