Taking Care of Ourselves and Each Other: Supporting Queer Survivors of Sexual Assault

Saturday March 8th, Philly Survivor Support Collective was at the 5 College Queer Gender and Sexuality Conference doing one of our favorite workshops – Taking Care of Ourselves and Each Other: Supporting Queer Survivors of Sexual Assault!

We had an awesome time, learned a lot, and were so grateful to be there! We’d like to give a Big Thanks to the conference organizers and those who participated in our workshop. During the workshop we had a great conversation where we shared personal strategies and tools around supporting ourselves, each other, and our communities around issues related to sexual assault.

Compiled below are a few notes from the knowledge we built together!

Things That’ve Worked: Success in Supporting Survivors or Seeking Support

–believing the person
–providing validation
–providing options and resources *giving back choice
–just listening: having a word to signal “I don’t need your advice”
*there are different ways to listen; asking people how they want to be listened to
–making room for silence
–allowing process to be survivor-led
–finding survivor communities
–books and print resources
–supporting each other as we support survivors (support people, need support also!)
–making space for emotions/anger/sadness
–understanding that trauma looks different for different people/situations

–how to deal with being triggered? *different for everyone:

  • Creating a positive “response-trigger”: touching a place on your body, saying an affirmation, create some sort of ritual for grounding yourself
  • Creating supportive spaces for yourself where you can go to
  • Safety planning: be concrete, for example plan out your day on an anniversary or better plan out your friend’s day around you!

What’s Been Difficult?

–feeling like you need to disclose to get support
–“Oh but they’re my friend/a good person”
–issues of confidentiality/safety
–where the person who is giving support’s feelings go
–being “outed” as a survivor
–dealing with mandated reporting. How do we help people get support without outing them?
–people outing the person who caused harm without survivor’s consent
–belief that we have to defer to institutions and policy; that we don’t have the power ad skills to support each other because there are less models in our communities about the many (infinite!) ways that can look (this speaks to structural oppressions that divide us!)
–knowing when to say no

Generating Solutions/Strategies

¬–Engaging with each other emotionally without asking for disclosure or explanation
–Delegating support to specific support people with specific roles
–Learning how to divert triggering conversations
–Seeking and giving permission and forgiveness
–Stay in your role: if you’re a friend, be a friend not a counselor. Ask questions, check-in with what people need from you in that moment.


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