If you or someone you love has experienced sexual trauma, you may be feeling a wide range of emotions, including fear, anger, sadness, overwhelm, or confusion. While these emotional responses are quite normal, they can also feel very distressing.
Survivors of sexual trauma deserve and need safe spaces and healthy relationships where they feel supported and heard as they begin to understand and heal from their trauma.
How do I access support if I am a survivor?
- Spend time with safe and supportive family and friends. If you are not comfortable disclosing your sexual trauma, you don’t have to.
- Reach out to a hotline or chatline meant for survivors. These are often confidential spaces to share your story, access support, and learn about your options.
- Join a support group for other sexual trauma survivors or start trauma information individual therapy.
How can I offer support to survivors?
- Believe survivors when they tell you their story.
- Acknowledge and remind the survivor they are not to blame for the sexual violence they experienced.
- Tell them you are here for them and ask them what help they need from you.
- Respect their privacy and give them time to heal. Do not pressure a survivor to take steps they may not be ready for yet.
- Offer to do research on resources that are available for survivors.
- Continue to check in with a survivor about how they are feeling. As time passes survivors often feel their loved ones have forgotten or moved on, even if they themselves have not.
Domestic and Sexual Violence Services provides free, short-term counseling services for survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence, stalking, and human trafficking. Services include individual counseling and group counseling.
Interested in learning more about counseling services? Call the Fairfax County Domestic and Sexual Violence 24-Hour Hotline at 703-360-7273.