Creating safe spaces: How to support a survivor of abuse

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2024 | Survivor Support Resources

When someone you love has experienced sexual abuse, it’s natural to feel a mix of emotions and uncertainty about how to provide support. It’s important to remember that your role as a friend or family member is invaluable. Here are some ways to create a supportive environment for survivors in Florida.

Be there, listen and believe

The first step in creating a safe space is to be present. Offer a listening ear and believe your loved one’s story. Your acceptance is a powerful form of support.

  • Listen without judgment: Let them share as much or as little as they want without pushing for details.
  • Validate their feelings: Acknowledge the complexity of their emotions and reassure them that what they’re feeling is normal, and that it is not their fault.
  • Respect their privacy: Keep their confidence unless they’re in danger or need professional help.

After listening, reassure them that they are not alone and their feelings are valid. Knowing they have people on their side can be a cornerstone in your loved one’s path to recovery.

Empower them

Survivors often experience some degree of helplessness or loss of control, and they can struggle to make decisions about what steps to take next. Rather than telling them what to do or say, opt for strategies that empower them by respecting their choices and encouraging them to take control of their healing journey.

  • Support their decisions: Whether they choose to report the abuse or not, stand by them.
  • Encourage self-care practices: Suggest activities like meditation, exercise or creative hobbies that can aid in healing.
  • Help them find professional support: Offer to help research therapists, support groups or other resources.

Empowering survivors helps them regain a sense of control and agency in their lives, a crucial step towards healing.

Educating and supporting yourself

Understanding the impact of sexual abuse can help you provide better support. Seek out resources and information to educate yourself on the subject. It’s also essential for friends and family to have help. Organizations like the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence offer guidance and support.

Abuse can be isolating, and friends and families don’t always know what they can do to show their loved ones they care. Thankfully, resources and legal options are available to help survivors and their loved ones.