For Family and Friends of Survivors

There are three basic things to do when someone tells you about an experience with sexual misconduct: Listen, Believe, and Refer. If you find yourself struggling to listen to or believe them, then just refer.

1. Listen

There are no magic words that can heal someone from a traumatic experience. You can be supportive, even if you don’t know or are unsure what to say. Listen respectfully without interrupting. Remain calm. Showing doubt, anger, or questioning their experience may cause someone to shut down.

2. Believe

Everyone responds to trauma differently. There is no one right way for a survivor to respond after being assaulted or abused. Never interpret someone’s emotions (or apparent lack of emotion) as evidence that sexual misconduct didn’t occur.

Listen, communicate, and support without judgment. Never blame someone who has been abused or assaulted. Avoid questions or statements that minimize the survivor's experience, such as:

“Are you really sure that's what happened?”
“It couldn’t have been that bad.”
“What did you do to bring that on?”

3. Refer

Encourage the survivor to get support and engage in self-care. Campus resources for support and healing include the Center for Women and Community: (413) 545-0883 or (413) 545-0800 (24/7 Rape Crisis) and the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health (CCPH): (413) 545-2337 or (413) 577-5000 (24/7 on call). 


Resources for Family and Friends