Things not to say to a Survivor
1. Ask if we liked it.
No one likes being physically overpowered.
2. If we were sexually abused don’t tell us “it’s just sex”.
Rape is a crime of power, control, and extreme violence where sex is used
as a weapon against someone weaker. It is not sex.
3. Tell us how we could have avoided it.
Believe me, if we could have prevented it we would have.
4. Make fun of us.
We have faced an attacker who sometimes is willing to kill and have
survived. What’s there to make fun of?
5. Tell us it would never happen to you and why.
We didn’t think we would become statistics either.
6. There’s no need to avoid us.
We’re still the same person you’ve come to care about or learned to care
about. We’ve just been unspeakably hurt. We’re not contagious.
7. Please don’t treat us like we have the plague.
Chances are we don’t. Do you?
8. God isn’t punishing us for some misdeed by allowing this to happen.
It was the abusers fault and responsibility.
9. Don’t tell us to ‘get over it’
10. Don’t disbelieve us.
According to survey respondents being disbelieved is a survivor’s greatest
11. Don’t tell us that survivors make up tales for attention.
12. Don’t tell me not to talk about it.
Yes it upsets me to talk about it but that is the only way
that I can sort through it.
13. Don’t say “other people have it worse off than you”.
I’m not “other people”. I’m me.
Some other suggestions for Partners of Survivors that may help:
Don’t feel you need to retaliate against our attacker.
We know the perpetrator is capable of violence. Please don’t make us worry
about you being hurt. We’ll feel more secure knowing you’ll remain in one
Don’t blame us for what happened.
It’s not our fault.
Don’t tell us to put what happened out of our minds.
It’s not that simple.
Don’t tell us “it’s no big deal”.
Abusee is an enormous challenge to heal from. It haunts even our dreams.
Try to understand our need to feel safe.
If we disagree about safety issues in the future please realize that
what may sounds strange to you may help us feel safe.
Don’t say something like, “Well, it’s been six months (a year, 15 years
etc.) and ask if we’re “over it” yet.
Chances are that we may not be ready to go back to life as it was. We may
never be ready and may have to create a new life for ourselves as we learn
to be safe again.
Don’t tell us we are weak because it impacts our life.
We are stronger than words can describe.
Don’t ask us what you are supposed to do to get past what happened to
We aren’t sure what we’re going to do.
Don’t ask us if we did anything on purpose that led to the abuse.
We didn’t do anything except survive.
Don’t ask us if we couldn’t have done something differently during our abusive childhoods.
We made the best choices we could to survive. We got away without being
killed didn’t we? That’s proof our instincts were right. Please help us
learn to realize that ourselves.
Don’t tell us that it’s not abuse because we knew the attacker.
Numerous studies tell us that our perpetrators are more likely to be known
to us than unknown.
If you give us a hug and we pull away please know that chances are
we’re not rejecting you, we’re just uncomfortable.
We may have a hard time being able to respond right now.
If we do pull away from you please don’t get mad. Tell us you care.
Chances are you’ll get that hug after all!
If you’re together and the survivor has a flashback try not to be mad
at the survivor.
We hate the darned things too! Flashbacks are always rough. It’s difficult
to know what to do. It’s got to be difficult to watch. Any anger should go
the one who caused the rape and not the survivor who has to put her life
Don’t be afraid to talk to us if we’re upset.
Knowing you are there may be just what we need.
If we become suicidal please don’t take that as a sign of weakness.
Take that as a sign we’re overwhelmed, trying to cope, and need help.
Don’t pretend abuse doesn’t happen to people you know.
It does. Thank you for reading this to learn about it.
Don’t get the idea abuse just happens to “those” kinds of children.
This crime happens to as many as 1 in 4. It crosses ethnic, racial,
economic and social boundaries.
Don’t be afraid of a person who was abuse.
I promise as a survivor, the abuse will effect you but won’t rub off on
you. The person you love is still the same person as before.
Don’t deny your feelings after finding out a friend was abused
Do not tell us “Oh yeah, I know a bunch of kids who’ve
We realize we aren’t the only ones but by saying that
it belittles how it hurts by making it just another
Do not tell us “Its no big deal.”
We know otherwise.