Support for Survivors


  • The South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SCCADVASAis a statewide coalition made up of the 23 domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy organizations in South Carolina. Since 1981, SCCADVASA has been a leader in representing the critical needs of survivors and their families.

Things that can help

  • Don’t minimalize the victimization.
  • Don’t assume that because the survivor is not acting a specific way that the survivor was not affected by the victimization – survivors react differently: some cry, some act stoic, some are quiet, some laugh, etc.
  • Let the survivor know you care.
  • Maintain your composure.  The survivor is aware of your reactions.
  • Don’t judge the survivor.  The survivor did not cause the victimization – the assailant did.
  • Just listen. Silence is okay.
  • Tell the survivor that you are sorry that it happened.
  • Understand that the survivor will have good and bad days.
  • Give the survivor time to heal. Don’t expect the survivor to “snap out of it” quickly.  They may still need to talk about it with you or have your support weeks, months or even a year from now.
  • Give the survivor a list of resources that can help.
  • Don’t confront the person who hurt the survivor.
  • Don’t try to use the incident as a teaching moment for the survivor.
  • Maintain their privacy by not telling other friends – no one wants to be the topic of the rumor mill.
  • Encourage them to report it but make sure not to take control of the situation.  Respect their wishes with regard to telling others.
  • Do encourage them to get counseling.
  • Encourage them to get medical assistance if they have been physically or sexually assaulted.

Words that help

  • You are safe now.
  • I’m sorry this happened.
  • This is not your fault; nothing you did (or didn’t do) makes you deserve this.  It is the fault of the assailant who chose to do wrong.
  • I’m glad you told me.
  • How can I/we help you feel safer?
  • I’m proud of you for sharing this with me.
  • Would it help to talk to someone who works with victims of crime?
  • I believe you.
  • I’ll support your decisions.
  • If you ever want to talk, even weeks or months from now, I’m here for you.

Words that harm

  • You are lucky you were only _______. There is nothing lucky about becoming a victim.
  • This wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t ___________.
  • I told you not to: go to that party, date that person, hang out with those people.
  • Just forget it ever happened.
  • Get over it.
  • This is private. No one needs to know
  • Do not to think about it anymore.
  • I can’t believe you are not over it by now.