What is a secondary survivor?

Depending on where you have been getting information about sexual assault, you may have heard the term secondary survivor.  A secondary survivor is someone who is close to the survivor and may experience some of the same side effects such as personality changes, depression and emotions related to the trauma.  [Extends to trauma in general.]

There is no right or wrong way to feel after a survivor discloses to you that he/she was sexually assaulted.  You may experience some of these side effects or you may not.  The important part to note is that it is normal.  If you are not experiencing these reactions it doesn’t mean you are a bad friend just as if you are experiencing them it doesn’t mean you are taking anything away from the survivor.

On some websites, the term secondary survivor and friends and family members of survivors are used interchangeably.  You can choose the terminology that makes you feel the most comfortable.