How Can You Assist a Survivor
If you are someone who knows a person who has experience trauma or abuse, you may not be aware of the best ways to engage with them and express your concern and support. Keeping some things in mind with regard to this is important. First and foremost it is important that you establish a trusting relationship by showing empathy, indulging in active listening while respecting their defenses. Excessive questioning or trying to enquire about details can be unnerving for the individual and these must be avoided. Respect the boundaries that they have in place before you take the next steps:
- Ensure safety first – If the person experienced a recent trauma, there are some important aspects to take care of as soon as possible. If anyone is in immediate danger, get assistance as soon as possible. Be aware of the resources that are available and the options that exist in the individual’s local area of residence for them to be able to seek immediate help. If they express that they need help do not inquire for details and be responsive instead.
- Follow certain do’s and don’ts.
Certain Dont’s to keep in mind
- Do not blame the person
- Do not ask too many questions
- Do not interrupt in between
- Do not give your opinion
- Do not react with shock, anger or disgust
- Do not ask the person to forget whatever happened
- Do not give advice without knowing the extent of the situation and without the individual seeking for help specifically
- Address the person by their name
- Encourage them by helping them make small decisions
- Ensure safety of the person
- Ask open-ended questions
- Give them a safe and secure place to share their experience
- Focus on their emotions and feelings
- Validate their feelings
- Help them restore their sense of agency by encouraging them in making small decisions and also helping them in engaging in problem solving behavior. They may be low on confidence and self-belief, help them by validating their experiences and encouraging them to make the choices they need to. Remind them of your support and availability. Keep engaging with them in conversations to understand how they are feeling and where they are getting stuck. Keep problem solving with them and not for them, unless they explicitly ask for the same.
- Get Professional Help
Ask the individual to take professional help. Sometimes people may not be willing to take help because of stigma and lack of awareness. Bust those myths and patiently ask them to take help. The range of support options available to individuals who have experienced trauma and abuse include face-to-face counseling, online counselling, telephone counselling, face-to-face support groups, online support groups. Find out more about the 24*7 helpline numbers in your country which offer psychological first aid. To view the helplines that are available in India click here.