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supporting survivors can be a very difficult thing to do. remember that you are travelling the road toward healing with your friend, that the two of you should be taking this journey hand-in-hand. help when you can, and understand when you can't. here are some suggestions for what to do and what not to do in order to best help your friend.

believe what the survivor is telling you, and let them know that you believe it. it is always important for a survivor to feel validated, and to feel like their telling you means something. even if you are having feelings of disbelief, try to keep them to yourself; it never helps a survivor to be told that they are not believed.

avoid making blaming statements. never say: "it was your fault" or "if you had done something differently, you could have gotten away." you may feel that the survivor is at fault, but your blaming them will not help them recover.

listen when they are talking, try to make a survivor feel comfortable when they are expressing their feelings. sometimes the emotions that stem from sexual violation can be completely overwhelming. try to support the survivor and keep them as comfortable as possible.

try to contradict self-blaming statements. if a survivor says, "it's my fault," try to convince them that it wasn't. avoid getting angry or frustrated. try saying, "i know you might feel that way, but you have survived, and that's what's important. obviously you made the right choices."

let the survivor reveal as much is comfortable for them, and don't interrogate them. ask questions if you feel the need, but if they seem to have difficulty answering, say, "i'm sorry, you don't have to answer that."

reassure them that what they are feeling is okay. try to keep the survivor from feeling alone or ruined. remind them that they are reacting to a very difficult experience, and that their emotional reaction (or lack thereof) is normal.

support decisions made about reporting sexual violation. don't try to force them into reporting the crime, but don't try to avoid it if that is what they want to do. help them make appropriate choices, ask them if they would like you to accompany them to the hospital, a counselling session, or a legal appointment.

try to help the survivor build a strong support network. encourage them when they want to reach out to other survivors or join support groups. help them find a supportive circle of friends where they can safely express their feelings.