Hearing that someone has, or is, experiencing power-based interpersonal violence can raise a lot of feelings. Most importantly, you care and want to help.
Below are some suggestions for supporting someone who shares their experience with you.
- Believe what the person is sharing with you.
- Acknowledge what the person is sharing and that they are not to blame. For example, "Thank you for trusting me and sharing with me."
- Let them know that they have your support.
You are being called on to listen and support the person without an agenda or planning the next thing to say. You do not have to say the perfect thing.
- Listen fully and be present in the moment, without judgment.
- Silence is okay! Take a moment to gather your thoughts before responding.
- Give them the time and space they need; don't press them for details.
There are a number of resources available for the Emerson community that can be helpful, as well as resources within the broader community.
- Share options and resources, regardless of if the violence or harm happened in the past or is ongoing.
- Let them know that they do not have to go through this alone.
- Let them come to their own decisions, without feeling pressured.
Offer Practical Support
Many of the things you already do are likely useful.
- Offer practical support (e.g. a ride to school/work, a person to have lunch or study with, more time to finish a project, an adjusted schedule etc.)
- Help the person connect to things they enjoy
The Healing & Advocacy Collective offers confidential advocacy-based counseling, as well as information about options, accommodations, and resources. Our role is to support the decisions that the person feels are best for them.
Take Care of Yourself
You may be feeling a mix of things—anger toward the person(s) who caused harm, concern for your own or others’ safety, sadness, or numbness. For some, learning about what has happened to someone else may bring up past personal experiences.
There is no right way to feel when someone tells you about experiencing power-based interpersonal violence.
Remember to take care of yourself, too; whether you go for a walk, take a nap, listen to music, watch TV, write, dance, spend time with friends, or anything else you enjoy!
Ultimately, it is their decision about what they want to do. Supporting their decisions is one of the important ways you can demonstrate your care.