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What is a survivor-centered approach and why is it important?

Category: Survivor-centered approach

A survivor-centered approach seeks to empower survivors by prioritizing their rights, safety, well-being, needs and wishes. Organizations must ensure that survivors have access to appropriate, accessible and good quality services. For that reason, it is important for organizations to have survivor-centered response and support mechanisms in place in case allegations arise. Following an incident (a traumatic experience, such as sexual assault), a survivor-centered approach will give the survivor control over the decision-making process. This serves to provide space and time for the survivor to express their needs and for the organization to arrange for the relevant support.

This approach also serves to recognize that the various coping-mechanisms and healing processes are unique to each individual. However, there may be limitations that would require different levels of action, for example, legal limitations, especially when minors are involved. The principle of “do no harm” is at the heart of the survivor-centered approach. Maximizing agency is therefore key to prevent survivors from having to endure any further unnecessary grief.

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