“I believe you.” How to support survivors of sexual violence

Tragically, as a community, we have too often failed to acknowledge, validate or understand the wide-ranging impacts of sexual assault. It makes sense then, that a critical first step in responding to those who have experienced sexual assault are those three simple words, “I believe you”.

Many survivors of sexual violence choose not to report their abuse. They do this because they fear they won’t be believed or that their experience will be minimised by others.

Our legal system, victim blaming culture and social stigma can all act as barriers to reporting. In reality, the number of false accusations of sexual violence made is low.

If you are struggling to find the words when someone tells you about their sexual assault, keep it simple. Let them know that you believe them and that you are sorry that it has happened to them. Reassure them that you are there for them. Be supportive and let them know they can tell you as much or as little as they want.


Here are some practical ways in which you can respond when someone tells you they have experienced sexual violence:

  1. Ask the person what they would like you to do to provide support.
  2. Reassure the person that it’s not their fault.
  3. Help them to find services that can assist. This could include Police, hospital, a GP and specialist sexual assault services.


What support is available?

Centacare Family and Relationship Services Kingaroy offers a safe and supportive space for those impacted by sexual violence.

Support available

If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger, phone Queensland Police or Ambulance. 000
For localised information and support services Contact your GP
13 HEALTH (24 hours, 7 days) provides a confidential phone service that provides health advice. 13 HEALTH 13432584
Policelink (24 hours, 7 days) for non-urgent incidents, crimes and police enquiries. 131444
Crime Stoppers Queensland 1800 333 000
Queensland Sexual Assault Helpline offers emotional support and referral pathways to people who have, or think they may have been sexually assaulted or abused. It is also for those who are concerned someone they care about might have been assaulted or abused (7 days, 7.30am – 11.30pm). 1800 010 120
1800 RESPECT (24 hours, 7 days) offers a confidential information, counselling and support service for people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse. 1800RESPECT 1800 737 732