This page offers information for friends or family members of victims/survivors, also known as secondary survivors or co-survivors. Thank you for caring and seeking help!
What do I say?
It can be hard to know what to do to help a friend or family member who is a victim/survivor of sexual violence.
What to say to a victim/survivor:
- I'm sorry this happened to you
- It wasn't your fault
- You survived; obviously you did the right things
- Thank you for telling me
- I'm always here if you want to talk
- Can I do anything for you?
What NEVER to say to a victim/survivor:
- It was your fault.
- You could have avoided it had you __________
- It's been so long! Get over it!
- You wanted it / You were asking for it.
- It's not that big of deal; it happens to lots of people.
- I don't believe you.
What should I do (and not do)?
- Respect the victim/survivor enough not to pity them.
- Comfort them. Make the environment comfortable.
- Allow them to talk as much or as little as they need.
- Encourage the victim/survivor to seek medical treatment, counseling and/or post-trauma services.
- Find your own support. As a secondary survivor, you are also affected. If you would like to speak with someone on campus about being a secondary survivor, contact the Sexual Violence Support Coordinator at SCEsupport@osu.edu or Counseling and Consultation Service.
- Be willing to say nothing. If you don't know what to say, that's okay. The most powerful statement a friend can make is by simply being there, not trying to fix everything or pretending it's okay. Silence often says more than words.
- Assume they do/don't want to be touched. Some people can't stand a hug at this point. Others can't make it without one.
- Try to solve all of their problems for them. They have had their control taken away. Try to avoid doing that again.
- Assume you know how the victim/survivor feels. Making statements such as "it's ok" or "you're going to be fine" may serve to minimize the victim's/survivor's feelings and downplay the seriousness of the violence.
- Allow myths to affect how you perceive the survivor. Review myths vs. facts about sexual violence, and examine your own attitudes and feelings about sexual violence.