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How you can help someone

If someone you know has experienced relationship violence, sexual assault or harassment, the single most important thing you can do is help them feel safe and supported.

Showing Support for Survivors

Knowing how to respond when someone shares their story with you can feel intimidating and many are unsure how to show support. These examples are a starting point of helpful things to say.




Supportive verbal responses can help guide a survivor on a path toward healing. Here are some strategies and suggested responses to help you help them.

Remain calm

Displaying big emotions, even if they are in support of the survivor, can be overwhelming and cause even more pain and confusion.

Avoid judgement

Be cautious about what follow up questions you ask that could make the survivor feel judged or blame themselves for what happened.

Ask permission

Seek consent from the survivor before touching or hugging and before asking for more information about what happened.

Respect their privacy

Unless you are a mandatory reporter, recognize keeping the survivor's story private is important.

Recognize distress

All survivors process what happened differently. Actions like crying all the time, talking about wanting to die, being extra tired or using more substances than normal could be signs something is bothering them.

Honor them

Remember, this journey looks different for each person and is a process that should be guided by the survivor.

Ask for help

Regardless of your concern or best intentions, you cannot be the sole source of healing for a survivor. It’s important to recognize your limitations in the situation and to help the survivor connect with MSU’s resources for additional support and information.