If a Friend or Partner Has Experienced Violence

Give them control over their healing process. Everyone heals in their own way and time. All power and control was stripped from the survivor during the violation. Returning control to them is an essential step to demonstrating respect and care.

Believe them unconditionally.  Make it clear that you believe your partner or friend was violated. Reassure them that they are NOT to blame. Only the perpetrator is to blame. It does not matter where the survivor was, or what they were wearing or doing. The fault lies solely with the perpetrator.

Listen respectfully and without judgement. Allow your friend to speak without interrupting. Use nonjudgmental, non-blaming language. Show concern, but do not judge or blame. For example, instead of “you should leave” or “I would never put up with that” say “I’m worried about you.”

Respect quiet and let them share what they are comfortable with. Sometimes a victim will need you to be a supportive, but quiet, presence. If they pause or stop, sit quietly and let them guide the conversation. Do not ask them to continue sharing information or press for more details than they’re willing to share in that moment.

Help educate your friend. Both of you can learn more about relationship violence by contacting the Gender & LGBTQIA Center at (336) 278-6228. Allow your friend to decide which resources make sense for their unique situation.

Suggest resources, but remember every step in the healing process the survivor’s choice. Refer the survivor to these resources, but allow them to make the decisions regarding their care. Avoid telling them how they should feel, respond, or behave.

Give it time. Wanting to quickly fix everything is normal, but not realistic. Violence takes time to heal. Respect the survivor’s process no matter how long it takes.

Respect the survivor’s privacy. If they have confided in you, then respect their privacy and keep the story to yourself unless you are explicitly given permission to share.

Seek help for yourself. As someone supporting a survivor you will likely also experience a range of thoughts, feelings and questions. Confusing, contradicting or upsetting thoughts are normal. Seek support for yourself to ensure you are taking care of your own well-being.

There is no right way to heal. You must be patient with the survivor, and with yourself. The emotional impact of violence may take time, patience and space to heal. For additional resources please contact the Coordinator for Violence Response at (336) 278-5009 or akrauss3@elon.edu.