I was honored to be invited to support the educational efforts of DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I spoke at an event held April 26th in the Great Hall of the RFK Justice Building in Washington DC, along with a distinguished panel that included Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West.

I offered three strategies for supporting those moving from surviving to thriving after experiencing sexual violence: Show Up, Speak Up & Lift Up. Each briefly addressed personal and community options for providing support.

Show Up – Be there to listen when they need to talk. They don’t expect you to be their therapist – they just want you to be you – and to know they are not alone. Attend community educational events, and through your presence demonstrate your morale support, even if you don’t feel qualified to say anything on the topic.

Speak Up – “I’m sorry this happened to you. What can I do to help?” Seek out information from hotlines and other professional resources to find other ways to support someone you know who has experienced sexual violence. Correct misperceptions, misinformation and social myths about sexual violence among your family and friends.

Lift  Up – Don’t criticize their efforts to incorporate this trauma into their lives, especially if it takes longer than you thought it might. Lift them up when times get hard by saying something like, “I can see you are working hard and this is a difficult period. I’m here with you. You can heal.” Support them in ways that are comfortable for you, too.

Also featured at the event were Acting Director of the Office on Violence Against Women Bea Hanson, Associate Director of OVW Michelle Brickley, and Ms. Indira Henard of the DC Rape Crisis Center.

Participating in this event is a part of our ongoing effort to help empower people facing challenges like sexual harassment, sexual violence, abuse and discrimination.



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