Here are some tips for supporting survivors within a longer or ongoing time frame:
- Be patient. Do not expect them to “be ok” on your timeline; let them heal at their own pace.
- Be intentional with your language. Remember many things that may seem insignificant can actually be very harmful or triggering.
- Be careful not to invalidate their fears and anxieties. People who have experienced trauma may feel unsafe in situations that they previously were comfortable in. Phrases like “you’ll be fine” or “don’t worry” may seem supportive, but actually feel invalidating to that person.
- Give them a pass. Especially if the person who hurt them is also a student here, they may not want to attend events where that person may be present. Do not force them to go anywhere they do not feel safe. Maybe offer to stay back with them.
- Be aware of who you support. Are you continuing to socialize with your friend’s perpetrator? Are you a big fan of a celebrity who has a history of sexual violence? Are you having conversations with your friends about how perpetuating rape culture is harmful?
- Check-in every so often. Send them a text asking how they are doing or remind them that you are there for them. Set aside some time to spend one on one with them. Do this not just for the moment of disclosure but over time as they heal.