Department of Family Services – Domestic and Sexual Violence Services

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
703-324-5730 TTY 711
12011 Government Center Parkway, Pennino Building, Floor 7, Suite 740
Fairfax, VA 22035
Toni Zollicoffer

Sexual Violence – Secondary Survivors

exit website button circle  SAFETY ALERT – If you are in danger, call or text 911.

Secondary Survivors

A secondary survivor is a friend, family member, or partner of someone who has experienced sexual misconduct.

person hugging someone from behindSexual assault can be traumatizing for not only the survivor of the assault, but also for their family, friends, or partners. Because they care about the survivor of this crime, it affects them as well. Their responses and feelings about the assault are real and valid.

Find the support and resources you need to take care of yourself and be the best support possible to your loved one.


A person who survives sexual violence or discrimination often confides in a person they know and trust before they contact a sexual violence support agency. Thank you for making a compassionate response when someone reveals an assault to you. It can make all the difference in their recovery. Violent, abusive, and stalking behavior can exist in any relationship--short term, long term, strangers, same-sex partners, people with disabilities--regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, and socio-economic status.

Remember, interpersonal violence, sexual assault, and stalking behavior is never the fault of the survivor. No matter what happens or what the situation is, the person at fault is the person who chooses to use violence.

Take Care of Yourself

When someone reveals they have been sexually assaulted, there is no correct way to process your feelings. You may experience anger, guilt, disbelief, confusion, sadness, or none of the above.

Whatever emotions you are experiencing, it is vital that you take care of yourself. Self-care can contribute to your own personal wellness and help you better support the primary survivor.

If you or a sexual assault survivor are seeking help, or need someone to listen, call the Fairfax County Domestic and Sexual Violence 24-Hour Hotline at 703-360-7273. Our services are free and confidential.

Learn more about sexual violence or Domestic and Sexual Violence Services.

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Fairfax Virtual Assistant