What Should I Say?

Lara Brockwell joined STSM as a volunteer in September 2012 and became the Sexual Assault Services Coordinator in June of 2014. She received her Master’s in Social Work and Certificate of Drug and Addictions Studies from the University of South Carolina and her Bachelor’s in Psychology from Mars Hill College. Lara provides crisis intervention for survivors helping to reduce the impact of trauma after an assault.

Sexual assault is a difficult subject to discuss. It’s even more difficult when you learn that somone you care about has been assaulted. What is said to a survivor when they disclose they have been assaulted has a tremendous impact on their choice to report the assault, their steps moving forward, and their healing process.  This is such a challenging time for a survivor, and it is important to know what to say and what not to say to a survivor when their world has been turned upside down.   

Top things to say to survivors:

“I believe you.”

“It’s not your fault.”

“I support you.”

“I’m sorry this happened to you.”

“Thank you for telling me.”

“I’m sorry you are going through this difficult process.”

“Are you safe?”

“I’m here if you want to talk.”


Top things NOT to say to survivors:

“Why did you put yourself in that situation?”

“You should have known that was going to happen.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“What did you do to make him/her do that?”

“It’s not a big deal. It happens all the time.”

“It was so long ago. Get over it.”