How To Be An Everyday Hero For Survivors of Domestic & Sexual Assault (by Jordan Pollack)

In 2020, The Alliance served over 600 survivors. We provided over 1,300 nights of emergency shelter and over $100,000 in rental assistance for survivors fleeing their abusive household. Although we are able to help these individuals, we know that people experiencing domestic or sexual violence aren’t reaching out to us or law enforcement first. They are reaching out to friends, family, and community members that they trust. If someone tells you they’ve been abused or assaulted, it can be hard to know what to say or do. Oftentimes, the things we might instinctively say can actually be hurtful. In light of that, we’ve put together a guide on what to say, what not to say, and how to be someone’s Everyday Hero.

There are 4 simple steps to being an Everyday Hero and they are as follows:
1. Believe Survivors: Many survivors have already been made to believe that the abuse or assault was their fault or that they are making it up – questioning their stories only further traumatizes them. Support survivors by listening and believing. Instead of saying, “Are you sure?” try, “I believe you, I’m so sorry this happened.”
2. Reassure Survivors: Reassure survivors that what happened wasn’t their fault, that they are brave, and that they are not alone. Questioning their choice to speak up or seek help can be re-traumatizing and put them right back where they started. Instead of saying, “Do we really need to get law enforcement or someone else involved? Can’t it just be handled privately?” try, “What happened isn’t your fault.”
3. Support Survivors’ Choices: People who have experienced domestic or sexual violence are the experts on their own lives, and making decisions for themselves is a key part of regaining their power. Supporting them in those choices – even if we don’t understand or agree with them – is a crucial way to empower survivors. Instead of saying, “You have to call the police so he doesn’t do this to someone else.” try, “I will help and support you in whatever will make you feel safe.”
4. Help Survivors Find Resources: There are many agencies that can help people who have experienced domestic or sexual violence regain their power and get connected to the resources that will keep them safe and healthy. Get to know the resources in your community so that if someone you love discloses abuse or assault to you, you’ll know where to send them. Instead of saying, “If you’re not going to call the police then I don’t think there’s anything that can be done.” try, “”There are people who can help. Would you like me to make the call with you?”


The Alliance
24/7 Crisis Hotline
Free, confidential advocacy services

Sol Vista Health
24/7 Mental Health Crisis Line: 719-539-6502
Behavioral and Mental Health assistance

Chaffee County Dispatch
Non-emergency reports to law enforcement