(Content warning: This column contains a brief discussion of sexual violence and its aftermath.)
Unless sexual violence has already affected your life, it can be difficult to imagine a friend or loved one coming to you with a story of sexual assault, harassment, or other abuse. Would you know how to respond?
Some victim-survivors are able to begin sharing right away, but it is common for them to take months or even years to feel ready to tell their story. The responses they receive can have a strong impact on how and when they are able to move forward and begin healing. A negative or hurtful response can delay that person reaching out for further support by years.