How to Support Survivors of Sexual Violence

Recent events in Loudoun County have sparked important conversations about sexual violence in our schools. Sexual assault and harassment can happen anywhere to anyone. Sexual harassment and assault are any verbal or physical interaction of sexual nature without one’s clear and continuous consent. It is common that the survivor may not realize that what happened to them was harassment or assault until after the fact.  


Understanding Trauma 

The first thing to understand about sexual violence is that it is a form of trauma. It is not something to just “get over” or “move on” from. Trauma manifests itself physically and mentally and often leads to more severe mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some survivors may need to seek professional help like therapy and/or medication for support. 



The first thing you can do for a survivor is listen to them. Providing a safe, non-judgemental space for the survivor to talk is crucial. One of the most important things is respecting the fact that they might not want to talk about the situation. Let the survivor know that you are a safe person to talk to, if they want that. Something to emphasize when talking to a survivor is that their assault or harassment is not their fault. Also, do not pressure the survivor to make a report, but let them know you will be there to support them if they choose to. 



Understanding the facts about sexual violence can help you support your peers. Educate yourself on what sexual harassment looks like and how to combat it. There are certain misconceptions about sexual violence that can be damaging and stigmatizing. For example, the idea that sexual violence only happens to women is dangerous and invalidating to male survivors. You can educate yourself by listening to podcasts, reading books, or following advocates on social media. If you need some recommendations, check the list below:



If you or someone you know needs support, please reach out. LCPS staff are mandated reporters; this means if a teacher or staff member is made aware of an issue regarding sexual assault or harassment, they legally have to report it to an administrator. Administrators are also required to forward assault or harassment to the Title IX coordinator. 

Woodgrove Counseling page 

WHS Counseling Sexual Violence Page 

Interim Title IX Coordinator: Lisa Boland, [email protected] 

Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter Hotline: 703-777-6552

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673