Supporting Victims of Assault

Supporting victims of assault requires additional sensitivity and knowledge. Your goal should be to approach the survivor with support and refrain from judgment. Here are some things we recommend keeping in mind when engaging survivors:

  • Assume what they said happened did actually happen. According to the FBI, 99 percent of reports are true.
  • Be a patient and active listener.
  • Do not press for details.
  • Offer comfort, but do not touch the survivor unless invited to do so.
  • Reassure them that what happened is NOT okay and that they are not at fault nor are they alone.
  • Allow the survivor to take CONTROL– do not make decisions for them.
  • Offer information regarding available resources.
  • Remind the survivor that they have options.
  • Offer support – Remember that you are not serving in the role of a therapist; however, the survivor may need your continued support.
  • Find information if you do not know the answers – it’s okay not to be the expert but be sure to help the survivor find someone who is.
  • Educate yourself about sexual violence – seek information and utilize the resources available before an incident is reported to you.
  • Know your college’s protocol for reporting acts of sexual violence.