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Support Systems – Survivor Toolkit

Survivor Toolkit

Creating and Identifying Support Systems

What is a support system?

A support system is a group or network of people who survivors can rely on to provide emotional support. They can lift survivors up when they are down, provide survivors with a shoulder to cry on, laugh with survivors when they need it, and listen when survivors need a willing ear. A support system can provide sensible options and advice that survivors can consider when deciding their next steps.

Who can be in your support system?

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Co-workers
  • Faith leaders
  • Counselors or mental health professionals
  • Support groups
  • Other survivors
  • Advocates

How to Decide Who Should Be in Your Support System

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Who do I feel comfortable around?
  • Who makes me feel safe?
  • Who is a good listener?
  • Who has supported me in the past?

Start a Conversation About Domestic Violence

  • How do they react?
  • What do they say?

Remember that many professionals, like those who run support groups or DV advocates, are bound by confidentiality; they can’t share what you tell them and shouldn’t take any steps without your approval. You can find your local DV agency by visiting domesticshelters.org

Due to isolation, you might not be close to individuals you once relied on. If it’s safe, you can reach back out to those people. You don’t have to tell them everything in one day, but you can begin rebuilding trust by getting coffee, talking on the phone, having a Zoom call, or sending them a text. It may take time to rebuild connections and reestablish trust, but that’s okay and completely normal.

What role so you want members of your support system to play?

It’s okay if each person plays a different role. You may want a family member to just listen, go to an advocate for options, have a co-worker document incidents at work, and have a friend keep copies of your important documents and paperwork.

Let (non-confidential) people know that you want all conversations to stay between the two of you.

Benefits of Creating Support Systems of Other Survivors

  • Can help you feel less alone/isolated
  • Can normalize and validate your experience
  • Can normalize and validate your emotions throughout the healing process

Where can I meet other survivors?

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