Support a Friend

Responding to a person's disclosure with compassion, validation, and support can be an important step for a survivor healing from trauma. There are many different ways people like to receive support and it is necessary to find out what feels best for the individual you are supporting. Do they want to talk? Do they want resources? Do they want to be distracted? Is it helpful to offer hugs? Is it helpful to share your own experiences? Before engaging with any of these options, determine which (if any) will work for the person.

At OSAPR, we recognize that supporting survivors confronts widely-held attitudes that cast doubt on people who come forward. As a result, supporting survivors is integral to preventing future incidents of harm. By supporting a survivor, we can validate that what has happened to them is not okay and not their fault. This validation also sends a message to the larger community that these types of incidents are harmful and may have consequences, thus creating less and less room for them to occur.

What can I do?

A Survivor-centered response describes our individual actions to support survivors and recognize our role in confronting rape culture.

  • Believe - People often worry that they will not be believed or that they will be judged. How you respond matters.
  • Listen - Some people will want to talk right away, and others will need time. Let them talk when they're ready and let them decide what steps are right for them.
  • Get InformedConnect with OSAPR to learn more about resources and options.
  • Take Care of Yourself - Take time for yourself, your needs, and your feelings.

You are not alone- If you are concerned about supporting a friend, want more resources or support, or need to process your own emotions, please feel free to reach out to OSAPR: 617-496-5636 or email us at osapr@harvard.edu

Image is information about how to support a friend listed above.