Home > Survivor needs

Be patient where you sit in the dark. The dawn is coming.
- Rumi

What do survivors need after sexual harm occurs?

Most people view justice as punishment and the means to secure justice is through the courts. But justice often requires more than a conviction. At its best, the criminal justice system only partially gives survivors a sense of justice or meets their needs arising from sexual harm. In CSJ’s experience, survivors need:

Safety and support. Survivors want the abuse to stop and to feel emotionally and physically secure. They long for their family and loved ones to believe and support them when they share about abuse and to minimize harm to their family that their disclosure might cause.

Accountability. Too often people equate punishment with accountability. However, true accountability requires offenders to admit and take responsibility for the harm and make amends directly to the person they abused, an option adversarial justice systems make almost impossible.

Regain control. When someone is harmed, especially sexually, they lose control and power to the person who harmed them. Survivors regain a sense of control of their lives when they play a primary role in the justice process, help decide outcomes and have space to share their story and ask questions in a safe environment.

Healing. Survivors need access to services to heal from sexual harm—medical care, mental health care and financial compensation. But they also need to be restored to a place of safety, independence and dignity within their home and community, so they can move forward with their lives.

Restorative justice is a choice that better meets these needs. It offers meaningful accountability, repairs harm to survivors and reforms and rehabilitates individuals who committed the harm.