26 Jul Supporting the Survivors in Our Lives
Rebecca Jasmine is a volunteer who has kindly donated her time and talent as a writer to share her thoughts and experiences with WTLC. She wrote this article to help our community understand how we can all do our part by supporting the survivors in our lives.
There are survivors all around us, and we may not even realize it. The statistics are alarming; in the United States alone, one in four women and one in seven men experience physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime.
Despite this, survivors have continued to show strength and resilience – qualities that have allowed them to get where they are today. This is by no means a solitary effort, as they need the support of loved ones to fully heal. If you know a survivor in your life, then here are some of the ways you can support them:
Learn to Listen and Validate Their Feelings
Abuse is a difficult experience to process because its causes are complex and often difficult to explain. As a result, survivors may sometimes feel like the abuse was their fault. It is important not to belittle or dismiss any fears, anxieties, or doubts. Progress is never linear, and survivors may still struggle with the effects of abuse long after the incident has passed.
To support a survivor, validate their feelings and reassure them that the abuse was not their fault. This validation should also come from organizations that can offer professional services. At WTLC, they offer such clinical services, whether in the form of individual or group therapy, peer support groups, or facilitated activities like therapeutic art. This type of support can help restore a survivor’s confidence and sense of security, helping them feel like there is someone on their side.
Respect Their Privacy
Privacy is of utmost importance for survivors and their safety. This is especially true in the digital world where information is so readily available on social media. You can show you care by providing emotional support and helping with any technical aspects of securing their privacy.
Start by finding out what the survivor is and isn’t comfortable sharing online so they can control their boundaries. Then, help them with taking their public information down, getting malware protection, and using a virtual private network before an abuser attempts to trace the trail. By respecting and upholding their privacy, you can give a survivor the comfort and security of knowing they are much safer.
Know How to Help Them Seek Support
Survivors are all too familiar with losing their sense of control, so providing support should never involve forcing them to do anything, even getting professional help. Nevertheless, providing support when they are ready to seek help. Fortunately, remote services, mental health services have become more accessible. Supporting a survivor can include guiding them in the direction of an advocate or helping them make the first initial contact can ease the stress and anxiety of finding them help.
Be There for Them
Sometimes the best way to show support is to simply be there for a survivor. While it may be difficult to fully grasp their experiences, what matters is that they can feel your support. This is especially important because past trauma can be triggered by isolation – something they’re most likely experiencing during this pandemic.
Start by simply asking a survivor how they are doing and communicate that you are there to listen. It also helps to be prepared for these conversations; some survivors are more open to sharing while others may be selective with details. Be open and accepting of what they are willing to share with you and assure them that your support is constant.
There is a long way to go in working towards a world with no violence, but survivors are living proof that, with our support, there is something better on the other side.
exclusively written for wtlc.org by Rebecca Jasmine