Anni Albers, Tapestry, 1948. J R, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Living in Support of Survivors

I think a lot about the red carpet of the 2018 Golden Globe Awards. It was the year Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement went viral and every celebrity had a glammed-up survivor on her arm. 

Since then, we’ve deemed it “politically correct” to #believesurvivors – an important (and insufficient) step in creating a society that respects and values women. 

After the gender-based violence that occurred on October 7th and the recent spate of sexual assault stories coming out in New York in response to it’s statute of limitations extention, I’m wondering what it means for all of us, collectively, to believe survivors – especially when it’s not glamorous or cool.

For many of us, believing survivors is easy, while accepting hard truths about the men who perpetrate sexual violence can be deeply painful. One in three women experiences sexual violence and, as heartbreaking as it is to say aloud, it is our leaders, our cousins, our fathers, our neighbors, our teachers, and our favorite ‘90s icons who are committing these crimes. 

Given this, what does it mean to believe survivors when it breaks our hearts? When it turns our understanding of the world upside down? When it feels impossible to hold the full narrative? 

And what does it mean to go one step beyond believing?

For me, the step after believing survivors is supporting survivors.

Just like the practice of being anti-racist, the practice of supporting survivors will look and feel a little different for each of us. At it’s core, supporting survivors means choosing actions that are sensitive to the fact that 1 in 3 women you interact with has experienced sexual violence. It means centering the stories and lived experiences of women, particularly women of color, who experience sexual violence more frequently than white women and often have less access to healing services.

One of the ways that I practice supporting survivors in both my personal and professional lives is by consciously speaking and writing in ways that give people space to make their own choices. Some examples of this choice-affirming language include:

“I support whatever feels right for you.”

“Please take as much time as you need.”

“We can either do X or Y—what works best for you?”

All survivors have the common experience of not being in control of our bodies for at least one moment in our lives. By using language to affirm and reinforce each person’s capacity to choose what to do with their bodies and when, we counteract this experience of losing control.

As a survivor, a yoga therapist, and a trauma-informed trainer, I’m still learning how to live a life in support of survivors. All of our practices of supporting survivors can and should be continually evolving – we will try and fail and try again. 

What matters about the practice is our commitment to it. 

Halli Faulkner is a yoga therapist and trauma-informed trainer. You can find her at 

To learn more about how to support survivors, you can check out Halli’s May 3rd blog, “Seven Ways to Support Survivors”.