Navigating Paths to Healing: How to Support Survivors of Violence

By Havann Brown on April, 25 2024

Stay up to date

As National Crime Victims’ Rights Week unfolds, this year’s theme, “How would you help?” prompts us to explore the most effective ways to aid survivors of violence on their path to healing. At Common Justice, we embrace each survivor’s unique and personal healing process. Discover practical ways to create a supportive environment for survivors of violence, while centering their voices and honoring their needs. 

Embracing a Survivor-Centered Approach 

Adopting a survivor-centered approach is central to offering meaningful support. The use of this approach means prioritizing attentive listening, safeguarding well-being, and respecting survivors’ expressed needs and choices. It is about more than just the services provided; it’s about affirming survivors’ experiences and helping them regain control over their healing process. This approach creates spaces that respect diversity, ensuring that every survivor feels supported regardless of background or circumstances. The voices and experiences of survivors must guide us. Their insights are invaluable in shaping policies and practices that meet their needs. 

This could look like: 

Prioritizing Listening: Often, the act of listening can provide immense healing. Allowing survivors to express themselves freely, without fear of judgment, helps reduce feelings of loneliness and self-blame. Your presence and willingness to listen are powerful forms of support. 

Validating Their Feelings: It is critical to reassure survivors that they are not to blame for the violence they experienced. Affirm their emotions, gently offer reassurance, and avoid any statements suggesting victim-blaming. 

Supporting Their Decisions: Empowering survivors to make their own choices is essential for their sense of agency. Provide them with information and options, but let them decide their next steps, whether it involves legal action, therapy, or other forms of healing like restorative justice.  

Practical Ways to Offer Support 

If you’re looking to support someone on their journey, familiarizing yourself with available resources is a key step. In New York City, numerous services offer free or affordable assistance tailored to the needs of survivors.  

For instance, NYC 988 provides confidential mental health support through phone, text, or chat, available in over 200 languages around the clock. The Crime Victims Treatment Center and Safe Horizon offer therapeutic services and community support to help survivors recover.  

Additionally, the NYC Anti-Violence Project supports LGBTQ & HIV-affected survivors and Connect NYC focuses on community empowerment along with violence interruption through educational programs. For those who might find solace in physical wellness, East Village Acupuncture and Sweet Water Dance & Yoga offer affordable wellness options.  

Above all, it’s crucial to present these resources without pressure, allowing survivors to choose if and when to explore these options. 

Get latest articles directly in your inbox, stay up to date