For family and friends that support survivors

For family and friends that support survivors

It can be very difficult to be alongside loved ones who have experienced human rights violations. We also know how important it is that survivors will be met with as much care and support as possible.  Support is important to rebuild, recover, heal, survive and thrive after a traumatic event or human rights violations. You, as family or friend need information on how to best handle the different reactions.

Helping the helpers
For mental health workers empathy is an essential aspect of good help. This is also a source for compassion fatigue, vicarious traumatization or secondary traumatic stress. Early recognition and awareness are crucial to be resilient to these symptoms. This page is also valid for family members and friends that give support to  survivors.

A Guide for Friends and Family of Sexual Violence Survivors
Friends and family members of survivors of sexual violence often want to help a survivor through her or his experience but don’t know how. The resources below provide advice for friends and family about how to provide support without unintentionally increasing the stress that survivors experience, or otherwise doing harm. This 23-page guide contains a general overview of sexual violence. It includes some tips on communication, the common questions and concerns, the long-term effects and how significant others can be affected.

How can children survive torture?
OHCHR, 2016
The Expert Workshop on “Redress and rehabilitation of child and adolescent victims of torture and the intergenerational transmission of trauma” highlighted methods that can be deployed to sustainably assist child and adolescent victims of torture, including techniques which can revive their self-confidence and sense of worth and restore their hope and dignity. I take this opportunity to express my gratitude to these tireless professionals, who are supported by the Torture Fund, for their lifechanging work.

Helping Someone with PTSD Helping a Loved One While Taking Care of Yourself
Helpers  – Smith and Robinson, 2018

When someone you care about suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it can leave you feeling overwhelmed. The changes in your loved one can be worrying or even frightening. You may feel angry about what’s happening to your family and relationship, or hurt by your loved one’s distance and moodiness.

Helping Victims Overcome Human Rights Violations Through Education
ICTJ, 2016
Understanding education as a form of both reconstruction and reparations is essential for societies in their efforts to address victims’ rights and help victims and their families overcome the consequences of a painful past.

Self-Care for Friends and Family
RAINN, 2018
It’s important to know that there is no normal or one way to react when you find out someone you care about has survived an act of sexual violence. Regardless of what you’re feeling, these emotions can be intense and difficult to deal with. Learning how to manage these feelings can help you support the survivor in your life and can help you feel less overwhelmed.

Understanding PTSD: A Guide for Family and Friends
National Center for PTSD,  2018
If someone close to you has been through a life-threatening event, like combat or sexual assault, it can be hard to know how to support them. At the same time, it’s important to remember that this type of event also afects family and friends — and it’s normal for you to struggle, too.

Trauma and families
The State of Victoria & Better health Channel, 2015
It is normal to have strong emotional or physical reactions following a distressing event. On most occasions though, these reactions subside as part of the body’s natural healing and recovery process. Family members who experience a shared distressing event often become closer and appreciate each other more. A traumatic experience is any event in life that causes a threat to our safety and potentially places our own life or the lives of others at risk. As a result, a person experiences high levels of emotional, psychological, and physical distress that temporarily disrupts their ability to function normally in day-to-day life.