How to Support Someone Who Has Been Through Trauma
What You Can Do
- Listen – do so in a non-judgmental way. Sometimes all a person needs is to be heard.
- Believe – do not minimize, rationalize, or investigate what this person is telling you.
- Empower – encourage and support autonomy while discovering options/choices.
- Celebrate – good days, recognize strengths and remind the person of personal strengths.
- Make it about them – it is easy to ask things like: “Why didn’t you tell me?” or share your personal feelings. Your feelings are important and valid, but the person you’re supporting should not be made to feel guilt for what they did or did not do for you in relation to their trauma.
- Ask – saying to the person you care about: “I am here to help. What can I do to support you?”
- Make time – find time to spend with the person you care about and be prepared for that time to not be as it may have been before the individual experience trauma.
- Help – simple tasks such as small chores or errands – offer to complete them for that person.
- Time & patience – the recovery process will occur in its own time.
- Don’t – try to talk them out of their feelings, tell them how they should feel, communicate expectations of how they should be handling trauma.
- Encourage them to engage in self-care – such as counseling, joining groups, exercise, and so on.
When to Seek Additional Help
Times when it may be important to seek professional or additional help:
- The person has communicated thoughts and/or plans related to suicide or homicide.
- Emergency: 911, Clinton County Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1 (866) PREVENT (1-866-3836).
- The person is struggling with addiction – alcohol and/or drug use or other risky behavior: overspending, gambling, etc.
- The person communicates to you needing outside help.
- The person is disconnected from reality – cannot orient to things such as day, time, and location.
- Any time you are unsure about the safety of the person you care for, your safety, or the safety of others.
Looking After Yourself
Supporting a friend, loved one, colleague, or acquaintance going through trauma can cause you as the support to feel:
- Strong reactions of anger that it happened, sadness for them, fear for yourself.
- Changes in how you see life and the world.
- Nightmares or general moodiness.
It is important to practice your own self-care, too. You cannot support another if you are not caring for yourself in the same way or first
- Talk to someone you trust about your experience and feelings without sharing the other person’s story.
- Seek counseling.
- Spend time checking in with yourself on how you are feeling and reacting on a day-to-day basis
Title IX Coordinator
Office: Hawkins 151
Phone: (518) 564-3281
Email: [email protected]