Sexual Assault Response

The University of Mississippi

Support for Your Partner

Believe your partner

Survivors of violence need the support of their partners and often look to them first. Validate your partner’s experience by saying things like “I believe you” and “Thank you for sharing your story.”

Listen

Allow your partner to share her or his story completely; avoid interrupting or giving unsolicited advice. The story is difficult to hear, but it is more difficult for the survivor to share with the person she or he trusts most.

Remind your partner it was not her or his fault

The reaction of a partner is important to any survivor’s healing process. By reminding the survivor it was not her or his fault for what happened, a partner can empower the survivor.

Give your partner space to take control of the next steps

Be clear that any advice you provide is not a mandate, but support. Survivors can misinterpret instructions as commands or may feel she or he has to comply to stay in your relationship.

Ask what you can do; don’t tell her or him what to do

Remember that the survivor needs to regain power and control in her or his life. Give the survivor time to determine what is best.

Respect privacy

An experience of violence is an incredibly personal experience. Your partner sharing it with you does not mean that she or he wants you to share with everyone you know. Keep the information private, and allow the survivor to control her or his own story. If you need to talk to someone, reach out to confidential resources.

Understand your partner’s intimacy boundaries

After a sexual assault, survivors may not want to have sex or be intimate in ways in which your relationship worked before the incident. Respect any new boundaries your partner may have.

Offer resources

Check out the support section of the site to share local and national resources with your friend.

Get support yourself

Partners can feel the trauma and take on the emotions after an incident. Reach out to the Counseling Center or Psychological Services, or even call or text RAINN to get additional support.

Do not retaliate against the accused

You may be angry or upset at the accused. It is important after incidents of violence to empower the survivor of violence to decide whether to engage the student conduct process or the criminal justice process. Retaliation against the accused in any form could result in conduct charges against you. Retaliation is any adverse action taken against a person. Retaliation includes in-person or online harassment of any type; examples include intimidation, bullying, or posting on social media. Retaliation complaints are heard by the Office of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct.