What Not to Do

Don’t pry for details about what happened.

  • Remember to respect the survivor's privacy.
  • Don’t insist that the survivor talk about the incident if she or he would rather not.

Don’t question the survivor's account.

  • Don’t judge the survivor's behavior before, during, or after the assault. 
  • Remember that no one deserves to be violated or mistreated under any circumstances.

Don’t disagree with the course of action the survivor chooses to follow.

  • Allow the survivor to take control of her or his own life. 
  • While your advice may be sound, the survivor knows what is the best way for her or him to heal.

Don’t become so emotionally involved that you can’t help the survivor. 

  • Don’t assume that you know how someone else feels. 
  • Don’t expect that you’ll be able to make the survivor feel better. 
  • Don’t make the survivor deal with your own responses to the situation, such as anger or grief.

Don’t use words like these, which blame or impose your own feelings on the survivor.

  • "You're lucky that nothing else happened.  You could have been killed!"
  • "Why were you . . .?  Why did you . . .?"
  •  "You shouldn’t have . . ."
  •  "It’s not a big deal."
  •  "Calm down!"
  •  "I know how you feel."
  •  “If I were you . . ."