How To Help

“When a survivor comes out about having been raped or sexually assaulted — whether it be their first time telling anyone or their hundredth — recognize that the process can be extremely difficult and that you should be as supportive as possible. When a victim comes out to you, remember that they have chosen to trust you with a part of themselves. Respect this.” Read these crucial guidelines from Know Your IX

When a loved one is dealing with an incredible burden of violence and trauma, knowing what to say and how to help can feel overwhelming and daunting. The most important thing is to communicate that it is not the survivor's fault, that they did not do anything wrong, and that you love and support them unconditionally. Ask and listen to what the survivor says they need, and be honest about your limitations. 

Self Care for Allies

Self-care for allies and activists is what allows there to be allies and activists.  Most large providers of services to survivors also offer counseling and guidance to first-responders, family, and friends. 

 

How to Be An Ally 

Cardinal Rules

As allies to survivors of sexual violence, we need to:

  • Learn about rape culture and victim-blaming and expel them from our hearts, minds, and vocabulary
  • Seek out and listen to all sexual assault narratives and experiences and fight all forms of violence and hegemony they reflect 
  • Never tell survivors what to do or how to heal 

Allyship:

Allyship is not about self-glorification or performance. It’s a way of living one's life that doesn’t reinforce the same oppressive behaviors one's claiming to be against. It’s about the following things:

  1. listening listening listening 
  2. educating oneself 
  3. when it’s time to talk, never talking over survivors
  4. accepting feedback/criticism about how “allyship” is causing more harm than good without whitesplaining/mansplaining/heterosplaining/whateversplaining
  5. listening some more
  6. supporting groups, projects, organizations, etc. run by and for marginalized people so survivors' voices get to be the loudest on the issues that effect survivors 
  7. not expecting survivors to provide emotional labor 

Adapted from Mia McKenzie

“When a survivor comes out about having been raped or sexually assaulted — whether it be their first time telling anyone or their hundredth — recognize that the process can be extremely difficult and that you should be as supportive as possible. When a victim comes out to you, remember that they have chosen to trust you with a part of themselves. Respect this.” Read these crucial guidelines from Know Your IX

Check out these Community Accountability and Notes for Those Supporting Survivors sections. Ideally, read the whole The Revolution Starts at Home while you’re at it.

What is victim-blaming?

If you read only one link on this page, make it Harvard's own Anahvia Mewborn's “20 Things Never to Say to a Friend Who Confides in You That They’ve Been Sexually Assaulted”

Ten super common victim-blaming attitudes catalogued by Ms. Magazine to annihilate on sight/hearing/thought:

  1. The victim was asking for it.
  2. Men get these biological urges to rape, they just can’t help themselves.
  3. The victim might have made it up.
  4. The victim is ruining the life of the rapist; the rapist had so many prospects.
  5. The victim should not have been in that situation/known that person/lived in that neighborhood/walked down that street/gone to that  bar, etc., etc.
  6. People of certain races/ages/classes/backgrounds are just more prone to violent behavior.
  7. The victim didn’t say no.
  8. In cases of underage perpetrators: The rapist is only a child him/herself.
  9. The victim should have known what he/she was getting him/herself into.
  10. The victim’s parents should have taught him/her warning signs.