7 Little Ways To Support Sexual Assault Survivors
What does supporting a survivor of sexual assault really mean? Is it sufficient to say the right things when asked, or retweet stories like the Stanford rape survivor's letter, or get involved in conversations about rape culture at parties? And how do you expand your support from the specific friends and family members who may have suffered to your cultural approach and life in general? The good news is: you can do very little things that mean a lot. And your informed, ready voice can really change the conversation for the better.
Sexual assault survivors have to deal with a lot of silencing, from the legal system, families, institutional structures and often their own emotional trauma, guilt, and shame; so many of the best ways to help and support them are structured around facilitating their voices, and allowing them to be heard. Nothing more, nothing less. In a broader context, you can show your willingness to stand up for them and all victims in general by being involved, and stopping anybody who's spreading inconsistencies or myths about sexual assault and its victims and perpetrators. It's not difficult, though it does require action. But you don't need to feel powerless, or as if you can't do enough to help people who've been hurt.
If you only do small things to support sexual assault survivors, make them these seven actions, from picking your language carefully to paying attention to security and understanding problematic societal structures.
1. Choose Your Phrases.
Language is important. The particular ways in which you address a survivor and what happened to them can be crucially significant for indicating how you're supporting them in this situation. RAINN, the anti-sexual violence organization, recommends using phrases like "I'm so sorry" and "you are not alone," and staying well away from anything that might indicate judgement of them: "why did you XYZ," "why couldn't you have XYZ", and anything that might cause sensations of shame or blame is off the table. And if they want to talk about it, talk about it, or else explain in a calm and nonjudgemental way why it's not a good time for you right now.
2. Believe Them Openly & Vocally
It's a seemingly insignificant detail, yet a major deal: if you trust a rape survivor, don't simply accept they know. Make it obvious in your actions, your help, your support, and by disclosing to them you trust them. Forensics For Survivors advises, "Survivors of rape frequently stress that they won't be accepted. Tell the survivor specifically, "I accept you".... At the point when a survivor feels trusted, you have helped them begin to mend." Provide a bedrock, so that in case they encounter people who question them, they generally know they can depend on your believe.
3. React To Their Reactions
As we're learning, responses to rape are varying and complex, and a standout amongst the most inconspicuously steady approaches to help a survivor of rape is to comprehend that reality. How would you set that in motion? By responding to their own particular responses, as opposed to what you expect about how they're feeling. The understudy sexual brutality association Know Your IX has a decent rundown of the best approach: "Similarly as you shouldn't limit the strike, don't catastrophize either." The attack is essential and profoundly intrusive, however the survivor may not value being dealt with as though it's the end of their world except if they feel like that also.
4. Put Them At Ease
If you're going to discuss anything with a survivor that might touch on their assault, it's a kind and supportive idea to make their environment as comfortable and soothing as possible, and warn them ahead of time. Don't just spring it on them because you assume they're in a mental state where they might like to talk about, and avoid discussing it in public places unless they do. Environmental security is important; Pandora's Project suggests a cup of tea, blankets, a secure place, even soothing music.
5. Learn About How Assault Is Reported
This is a strategy of support that doesn't necessarily involve interaction with a survivor themselves. If you're talking about sexual assault, reporting, court cases, or anything else around the topic, try to learn about the structures that make it an atypical legal situation and can make it exceptionally hard for survivors to make cases or mount them successfully, seek medical help, or discuss their situations with others. Everyday Feminism has a very good primer on the difficulties built into societal structures for victims of sexual assault; it's important that they're part of the conversation, so that everybody realizes this isn't like reporting a mugging.
6. Be A Visible & Political Supporter
If you read about the Stanford undergraduate who upheld the assault casualty of Brock Turner at their school via conveying signs and mounting challenges at their own particular graduation, you may get a look at the intensity of open proteat and outrage about the treatment of ambush casualties all in all. Get included. Each individual at a rally about assault culture, each positive analyst on a tale about a survivor, each letter of help, each show of political and ideological devotion to equity for survivors and the finish of rape as a social standard, is an indication of help. Wear your convictions on your sleeve, from wearing a No More identification (above) to changing your profile picture to an It's On Us promise
7. Correct Others' Misconceptions When You Hear Them
Being a sexual assault survivor in public can be an extremely upsetting, traumatic experience; horrific misconceptions about sexual assault and "blame" are widespread, and it can be infuriating at best to deal with them. The 2014 viral spread of women sharing what they wore when they were assaulted, with the implication that your clothes do not matter and do not present an invitation, was in response to a Twitter argument between a survivor and a man who argued that women in short skirts were to blame for their own assaults. Don't leave them to deal with this mess on their own.
If you see a misconception about sexual assault on your timeline — that it only happens to women, that it doesn't count if you're drunk, that you can be "asking for it," that expressing consent and then taking it away doesn't mean rape, that being a good swimmer means you shouldn't be punished for violating somebody's body — call it out. Spread your own beliefs, openly and clearly. Work to make others understand the realities of consent, whether in some other means. Contribute to the conversation positively and you may just change a few minds.
I watched a music video just yesterday
It's sad because the theme happen everyday
It doesn't matter if it was provoked or not
These molesters seem to always be ready any day
No cry for plea or tears stemming down your face have a lot to say
You can only hope you are not within their reach and pray
Even if you give a loud hoarse cry like a donkey that bray
All over you, their useless seed they will spray
They have no shame so anywhere they will do it, even on clay
In the hay, bush, on the road, everywhere they lay
Life has it's way of making them pay
But for the lives they have ruined it might not be the same, and oh well, it may
Everyone is looking for the bright side of the sun's ray
But who will bell the cat, speak up and lead the way?
It is never a good thing, i mean rape
The fear to speak out runs so deep like a mouth on ducktape
The scar runs so deep, and they don't know, i mean these bunch of ape
The raped feel guilty even more than the molester
To the raped, please shun the fear and speak up
It is not your shame alone so try to man up
You don't have to bear the disgrace alone so stir it up
Expose them since they don't have the decency to zip up
Don't be defined by it just try and rise up to it
Don't let your voice be tamed because you have the mouth of a lion
Don't also forget your heritage, since you are from Zion
You can still make a fine tune out of your broken strings
All you need to do is try to stretch and fly with your wings
I condemn rape, i condemn the perpetrators but try to make something more out of your life.