How to assist a survivor of sexual assault

  1. Allow the survivor to approach you.

  2. Listen to their needs.

  3. Ask how you can support with any basic urgent needs first. Some survivors may need immediate medical care or clothing.

  4. Ask the survivor if s/he feels comfortable talking to you in your current location. If a survivor is accompanied by someone, do not assume it is safe to talk to the survivor about their experience in front of that person.

  5. Provide practical support like offering water, a private place to sit, a tissue etc.

  6. Ask the survivor to choose someone s/he feels comfortable with to translate for and/or support them if needed.

  7. Treat any information shared with confidentiality. If you need to seek advice and guidance on how to best support a survivor, ask for the survivor’s permission to talk to a specialist or colleague. Do so without revealing the personal identifiers of the survivor.

  8. Manage any expectations on the limits of your confidentiality, if applicable in your context.

  9. Manage expectations on your role.

  10. Listen more than you speak.

  11. Say some statements of comfort and support; reinforce that what happened to them was not their fault.

  12. Respect the rights of the survivor to make their own decisions.

  13. Share information on all services that may be available.

  14. Tell the survivor that s/he does not have to make any decisions now, s/he can change their mind and access these services in the future.

  15. Ask if there is someone, a friend, family member, caregiver or anyone else who the survivor trusts to go to for support.

  16. Offer your phone or communication device, if you feel safe doing so, to the survivor to contact someone s/he trusts.

  17. Ask for permission from the survivor before taking any action.

  18. End the conversation supportively.

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