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How to Help Someone I Care About After a Traumatic Event

Traumatic events are shocking for both the survivor and their support network. It can be very difficult to help someone you care about after a traumatic event. It’s not easy to know what to say or what to do.

Here are some tips:

  1. Tell them you believe them: A lot of people may doubt them after a traumatic event. It is important as a support person to believe them. 
  2. Make sure they’re safe: After a traumatic event, it is vital that the survivor is safe. It can help to make sure they have somewhere safe to stay.
  3. Tell them it wasn’t their fault: Survivors often experience self-blame after a traumatic event, especially if it was with someone they knew and trusted. Help them know it wasn’t their fault. It may take several repetitions.
  4. Help them know you’re there: Survivors may feel alone and isolated after a trauma. Incidents leave them feeling alone and like an outcast. Help them know that you’re there for them and are willing to listen to them.
  5. Communicate empathy: Help survivors feel understood with statements like ‘I’m so sorry’ and ‘That shouldn’t have happened to you’.
  6. Keep checking in: Their distress may not decrease immediately. It will likely take time for survivors to regain balance and feel like themselves again. They will need your support. Help them with practical things, such as dinner, homework, transportation, etc.
  7. Avoid judgment: Try not to judge the situation. Allow the survivor to come to conclusions on their own about what they experienced and what they should do about it. Help them know their options, but don’t decide for them. 



RAINN: Tips for Talking with Survivors of Sexual Assault

CDC: Helping Patients Cope With a Traumatic Event

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