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.  S/he 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 s/he has 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.