Support a Survivor by Listening

Every October, we honor Domestic Violence Awareness Month. DVAM is an opportunity to deepen our understanding of these issues, share resources, and most importantly, support survivors.

This year, Joyful Heart is honoring DVAM by sharing tools with our community to best support survivors. Each week, we will cover a new topic and invite and encourage you to share these tools with your community, as well as share stories about how to put them into practice.

This week’s tool is: Listen.

What does it mean to be a good listener? When a survivor discloses their experience to you, your instinct might be to tell them how you feel about the situation, or to give them advice.

But this may not be what a survivor needs. By simply listening and bearing witness to a survivor telling their story, with compassion and without passing judgment, you can make them feel heard, seen, and supported.

One way of supporting a survivor through listening is by practicing active listening. This entails putting aside your own thoughts, engaging with someone as they speak, and occasionally asking questions or repeating back what you have heard to validate that person’s experience. Active listening shows you are fully present and dedicated to hearing someone share their experience.

Many people share that being able to tell their story to someone else lessens the weight of isolation, secrecy, and self-blame survivors too often face. Listening is in and of itself an act of love. This month and all year long, we encourage you to practice listening to those in your life with experiences to share. They deserve to be heard—and your listening can make a big difference.

What tips do you have for being a supportive listener? Tweet us your thoughts at @TheJHF using the hashtag #SupportSurvivors. 

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