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  1. #1

    Helping someone who's been sexually assaulted

    Helping someone who's been sexually assaulted
    April 15, 2006
    Holly's Fight To Stop Violence

    Things that can be done to help a family member, significant other or friend who has been sexually assaulted:

    Believe - Many victims will not tell anyone about what happened to them because they are afraid no one will believe them. It takes courage to tell about the assault. When you are told about the assault, unconditional belief in the victim is of the utmost importance and can help tremendously in their healing process.

    Listen - Convey that you are willing to listen but DO NOT PRESS FOR DETAILS. Let the victim tell you information or details at her own pace.

    Be Non-Judgemental - Don't assume or believe that the survivor has any responsibility or blame for the assault. Do not say things like "you should not have gone out with him in the first place , "you shouldn't have been drinking~', "you shouldn't have worn that short, tight dress , "you should have fought harder , "you should have told me immediately , "you should have called the police immediately etc.

    Duration - Be prepared to provide emotional support for an indefinite amount of time. Some people think rape victims should be upset about the rape for only a few weeks. This is a heinous personal crime about one's body that can take much longer time to heal.

    Behavior Change - Changes in a rape victim's behavior may happen. She may be afraid to be alone, may want to be alone, may withdraw from family and/or friends, may be irritable, may have trouble concentrating/focusing, may cry many tears, etc. Even though her reactions may be painful for you to watch, remember that your understanding and support can be helpful for her.

    Counseling - Encourage the victim to seek counseling with someone who is trained in dealing with rape victims. If she will not, place the call yourself to obtain information and advice on how to help her.

    Privacy - Respect her/his need for privacy. There may be times she will feel the need to be alone. Do not tell other friends or family. The victim needs to be able to decide who she wants to confide in.

    Significant Others - It is very important that you do not say or do anything to imply that the rape was her fault. Let her know that you are on her side, that you will stand by her, and that you still love/care for her. Holding her or giving hugs may help.

    Responsibility - Make sure she understands she should not in anyway feel guilty. THE SOLE RESPONSIBILITY FOR RAPE LIES WITH THE RAPIST

    Control - When someone is raped they can feel that they have lost all control over every aspect of their lives. You can help her by allowing her to regain control (i.e., let her decide who to tell, let her decide who she wants to be with or let her be alone if that is her decision, let her decide how much she wants to tell you in detail and when, etc.).

    DO Not Make Threats Against The Perpetrator - The feeling of wanting to hurt the perpetrator in some way is normal but will not help the victim and may actually hinder her healing process. She may refuse to talk to you about the assault for fear she will be upsetting/hurting you.

    Male Victims - Be as supportive and empathic as you would if the victim was a female. Males may find it even more difficult to discuss.

  2. #2

    Re: Helping someone who's been sexually assaulted

    It is an important message for many who know someone who has been assaulted. Many do not even know what to do? Many are just as afraid.
    The important thing I know as a survivor was that I would be SAFE. Forgiveness, not blaming myself, counseling were areas of concern for me!
    How was I going to make it, I remember the fear was scary!
    I have come along way over the years. It is truly amazing what you can achieve if you really want to be living, learning and enjoying life!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Australia
    Age
    33
    Posts
    789

    Re: Helping someone who's been sexually assaulted

    It took me years to reach out after sexual assault, and when I finally did the main thing I wanted was to have my experience validated. It took me about a year to actually let anybody past my 'wall' because I was so scared of having to feel the things that were behind it. Patience is really important if you are a supporter of a survivor! It's an incredibly isolating experience, and mostly I just wanted someone who would listen and not judge. I didn't expect any brilliantly insightful reflections on what I said, just someone to acknowledge the pain and stand by me (and, yes, to give me lots of hugs!!!) while I processed it. Most people wouldn't have a clue what to say or do though, this is really useful information to spread around . Good for you for all the work you do, Holly.

    Meg
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." - Carl Jung

  4. #4

    Re: Helping someone who's been sexually assaulted

    Hi Meglet,
    Thank you, I am glad you found validation, patience is important as you have mentioned for several reasons.
    Every experience will be different for all survivors!
    Education and promoting awareness will help people, who do not know what to do when someone has been assaulted!
    We have come along way, still lots of work to be done!
    Take care sending a to you for your courage in coming forward!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Australia
    Age
    33
    Posts
    789

    Re: Helping someone who's been sexually assaulted

    Thanks, Holly
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." - Carl Jung

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