Sexual assault is when someone does sexual things to another person without their okay. It’s like rape, trying to rape, or touching someone when they don’t want it. Remember, it’s not the fault of the person who didn’t want it; it’s the fault of the person doing it.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), one in six women and one in 33 men will go through sexual assault at some point in their lives. It’s a terrible experience that can hurt people’s bodies and feelings. People who’ve been through this might feel angry, sad, scared, or guilty. They might also have trouble sleeping, focusing, or trusting others.
How to Support a Loved One Who Has Experienced Sexual Assault
It’s really important to help and be there for someone who’s been through sexual assault. According to the sexual abuse lawyers at DRZ Law Firm, it is more difficult for sexual abuse victims to keep the pain in and stay silent. Opening up to a family member or close friend can greatly help a sexual abuse victim. Here are some ways to support a loved one who has experienced this:
Listen and Believe: Tell them you’re there to listen and that you believe what they say. Don’t ask too many questions about what happened, and don’t try to make them feel better by saying things like “it wasn’t that bad” or “at least you’re alive.” Just be there to listen and show your support.
Respect Their Feelings: Understand that it’s normal for someone who’s experienced sexual assault to have lots of different feelings. Let them know it’s okay to feel however they do. Don’t try to make their feelings seem small or tell them how they should feel.
Help with Practical Things: You can support them by doing practical stuff like running errands, making meals, or going with them to appointments. You might also offer to drive them to therapy or support group meetings.
Suggest Professional Help: Many people who’ve been through sexual assault find therapy or counseling really helpful. You can assist your loved one in finding a therapist who knows about sexual assault trauma.
By following these steps, you can be a good support for someone who’s been through a tough time. However, understand that not everyone likes to be comforted the same way. What may be supportive to one person, may be an annoyance to another, so remember to stay patient and continue to support your loved one the best way you can.
Common challenges faced by survivors of sexual assault
Feeling Guilty: They often blame themselves for what happened. It’s crucial to reassure your loved one that it’s not their fault. The person who did the assault is to blame.
Dealing with Fear: Survivors may be scared of getting close to others, being alone, or going out in public. Let your loved one know you’re there to support them and they can trust you. Encourage them to take things at their own pace and say no when they’re uncomfortable.
Dealing with Triggers: Certain things, like specific words, places, or people, can bring back bad memories for survivors. Help your loved one figure out what triggers them and find ways to cope. For example, if crowded places are a trigger, they may want to avoid big gatherings or have a plan for leaving if they start feeling overwhelmed.
Supporting someone through these challenges can make a big difference in their healing process.
Self-care for Caregivers
Taking care of yourself as a caregiver is crucial when you’re supporting a loved one recovering from sexual assault. It is difficult supporting someone when you are also not feeling well mentally. Supporting other people may also be draining, so taking care of yourself is important as well. Some tips for taking care of yourself include:
Set Boundaries: It’s important to know when to say no to requests from your loved one. You can’t do everything for them, and it’s okay to take time for yourself to rest and recharge.
Take Breaks: Make sure to find time for yourself to relax and de-stress. This might mean spending time with loved ones, enjoying hobbies, or getting some exercise.
Talk to Someone You Trust: Talking to a friend, family member, or therapist can help you deal with the stress of supporting your loved one. It’s also beneficial to connect with other caregivers who have helped survivors of sexual assault.
Supporting a loved one in their healing journey can be tough, but it’s also rewarding. Remember, you’re not alone, and there are resources available to support both you and your loved one.
Show patience and understanding. Recovering from sexual assault is a journey with good days and tough days. Be there for your loved one in the way they need, whether it’s listening, giving a hand with practical things, or suggesting they talk to a pro. Don’t forget to look after yourself too. Setting boundaries and taking breaks when you need them is essential.