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Picture by Flickr user Metro Centric

This week, people from all walks of life are sharing their personal stories of sexual assault. Many are sharing publicly for the first time.

For many survivors, the first disclosure is the hardest, and it sets the tone for telling others in the future. Coming forward to name an assailant is never easy. Whether this person is a powerful public figure or not, it takes bravery and courage for a survivor to speak out.

If you find yourself in a position where someone is telling you about a nonconsensual sexual experience, it is imperative to be supportive. Here are 6 simple ways to respond when someone discloses sexual assault.

How to not be a jerk to sexual assault survivors

  1. Believe them.
  2. Don’t press them for details that they pretty obviously don’t want to give. Ask “do you want to tell me more about it?” not “what exactly happened?”
  3. Don’t pressure them into labeling their experience the way you want it to be labeled or taking action you want them to take.
  4. For crying out loud, do not share with anyone else that they are a survivor, who their assailant was, or any details about the assault without their permission. Yes, I know this is hard. Deal with it.
  5. They’re still the same person they were before they told you- treat them like it.
  6. Remember, it’s not about you.

For a more robust list, check out this article in the Guardian.

Want to help create a more supportive world for survivors? Donate to Callisto.

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