Helping a Friend
The best thing you can do for any survivor who reaches out to you is to listen, believe and offer empathic, compassionate support. Follow these tips:
It's difficult to be fully prepared when a friend tells you they experienced interpersonal violence. Remember, it takes courage for a survivor to share their experience. Provide a safe, non-judgmental environment for the survivor to share their feelings. Let the survivor lead the conversation, and don't use language that is victim blaming or shaming (e.g. questions about what the person was wearing, if they were drinking, out alone, what they did to provoke an abusive partner, etc.).
The most common reason a survivor does not disclose is because they fear others won't believe them. People rarely lie about abuse; false reports of sexual assault are as infrequent as any other crime. If someone is disclosing to you, it's because they trust you.
Interpersonal violence is NEVER the survivor’s fault. Reassure them that it is normal to feel fear, anxiety, guilt and anger, and no one ever deserves to be assaulted, abused or harassed.
Don’t share information without the survivor’s consent. It's important to empower the survivor by allowing them to choose who to tell and when. If you have a safety concern and need to share some information, get permission first.
Help a survivor re-establish a sense of physical and emotional safety by referring your friend to SAVIP or another local resource to help with safety planning.
NEVER confront the perpetrator. It can be dangerous for you and the survivor.
What to say
When someone shares with you that they have experienced interpersonal violence, they will likely be upset or traumatized. They could still feel uncertain and confused about what happened. Here are some things you can say:
- “I believe this happened and I am here to support you.”
- “I know that was really difficult to share. Thank you for sharing with me.”
- “There are confidential offices on campus that can help; would you like their information?” or “Would it help if I took you to/gave you information for a confidential resource here on campus?”
- "I'm here if you need to talk."
If you know a survivor and have questions about resources and university processes, call SAVIP at 803-777-8248.
As a confidential resource, SAVIP cannot discuss information regarding a specific survivor or incident without a signed authorization of disclosure from the survivor.
Take Care of Yourself
It's important when giving support to a survivor that you take care of yourself as well. SAVIP advocates support friends and family of survivors by referring them to resources and offering other assistance as needed. Drop in or make an appointment to discuss your individual needs.
Step in, speak up. Learn how to engage as an active bystander and make our campus a healthier, safer place for everyone.