You know a sexual assault survivor…in fact, you probably know a whole bunch.
It doesn’t matter what gender you are, what your orientation is, how many friends you have, where you live, or even whether you have assault/harassesed/raped someone in the past, or whether you spent time working against sexual assault.
You still know people who have been assaulted. Don’t be an ostrich and pretend that you don’t. They could be friends, family, co-workers, lovers, partners, former partners, teachers, students, dog-walkers, etc. You know them.
And if you’re a good person, which I assume you are (or at least, want to be), you’ll want to support them in some way. There are so many ways to help people who are victims/survivors (I prefer survior, not all people do), so why not give it a go. Here are some ideas:
*Believe them. So often, people talk about false reports, how people make stuff up, how unless a penis went in a vagina while she struggled and shouted no that it’s not assault. All of that is bullshit. If someone shares a little or a lot of their story with you, BELIEVE THEM.
*Be there. Be there whether they decide to tell you or not, whether they tell you just one sentence or the whole story comes pouring out. Just be there.
*Ask what you can do to help. Some people need a shoulder, others need a place to crash, some just want you to hold them while others don’t want you to touch them. ALWAYS ask, whether this happened yesterday or ten years ago.
*Do NOT try to tell a survivor what they “should” or “have to” do. They want to regain strength and control. Be there to help, but let them make their own decisions, like who to tell (or n0t), what charges to file (or to not do so), etc. There is not right way to be a survivor.
*Do NOT add more violence to the situation, by saying things like “I’m going to kill that fucking asshole” or “that bitch is gonna die.” Violence is scary period. It is MUCH scarier after you’ve been intimately affected by it.
*For those who are dealing with legal or medical rammifications, help them. Whether that is driving them to a court house, helping them film out school/police reports, googling info on local laws, statutes of limitations, finding them a SANE (sexual asssault nurse examiner) to help them find evidence, etc. It doesn’t have to be an all day event; any little thing is a show of support.
*Donate money, time or both to your local or national sexual assault organizations, whether they shelter surviors, run hotlines, train college campuses on how to change the climate towards sexual assault prevention, etc.
*Help compile lists of good therapists; get recommendations from friends, online, from sexual assault survivor support sites. Make copies, or put them online. If you’re in a more niche community (queer, kink, etc), help find kink aware therapists, and queer friendly professionals.
*Make lists of local sexual assault support organizations. Have these available or hand or email to survivors.
*Speak out. On facebook, change your status to say something against sexual assault or that you support survivors. On twitter, tweet about it. Put up a blog post, or relink to posts like this on tumbler. In the real world, stand up and speak. Be part of Take Back the Night. When someone touches someone inappropriately, or says something that is harassement, speak out against it. There IS strength in numbers.
It is only if we all band together that we can make change. Don’t be part of the problem, but worse, don’t be a bystander. Bystanders are how people get killed because no one spoke up, or how sexual harassment becomes an acceptable norm, because no one spoke up. Don’t be that person. Do whatever you can, however little or however big, to support sexual assault survivors, and to work together to eliminate and eradicate sexual assault.
-Essin’ Em1 comment