SUPPORT A FRIEND
Approximately 1 in 3 women, 1 in 6 boys, and 1 in 2 trans folks experience some form of gender-based violence. Survivors of sexual harassment, assault, and intimate partner abuse are in our community - they are our friends, family, and colleagues. They demonstrate their strength and resilience in many ways.
When considering whether to get professional support or report the violence, many people will talk to a friend first. If someone chooses to trust you with their story, you can:
Listen to her/him/them
You can let the person share their experience in their own words, at their own pace, leaving aside our own questions for later.
Validate his/her/their experience
Statements like “I believe you” and “It’s not your fault” let the person know that you take their experience seriously.
Ask her/him/them if the violence is ongoing
You can refer the person to services that help survivors make a safety plan while they decide what to do next
Support her/him/them as they choose what to do next
Sexual harassment, sexual assault or dealing with abuse from a partner can often leave people feeling trapped. If the person is looking for support or information, you can share the resources listed below. You can help the person regain their power by supporting their decisions, whether they report the violence or not, stay in an abusive relationship or leave, confront the person who harmed them or choose to move on.
If these simple steps sound difficult . . . they are! The Five MANifest Change conversations help us get ready to hear from people in our lives affected by GBV. They challenge us to consider what it means to “believe survivors” in a society that excuses harmful behaviour by blaming the victim.
Why don’t people report GBV more often?
In the era of #MeToo, some people are speaking out publicly or talking to their friends about their experiences of gender-based violence. Yet widely held but misinformed beliefs about GBV continue to stifle the conversation.
Sometimes our family members, friends and colleagues choose not to disclose their experiences to us because they fear we will take action on their behalf or otherwise take control of the situation from them. MANifest Change encourages men to consider how to put power back in the hands of a loved one who has experienced harm, rather than add more violence to the situation.