The significance of support in the aftermath of a sexual assault is often overlooked in media, and in public awareness in general.
Plus, there’s a thing about human behavior: when circumstances fall outside of our control, we struggle. On top of feeling powerless, we get frustrated with ourselves—all of this when your loved one is dealing with an intense trauma. So, you dismiss your struggles as “not real” in comparison.
But, I would hope most people can agree that survivors of sexual assault need some support, and that some of us don’t necessarily know how to support people in this situation. So the Ulzi community has helped us put together some simple steps to make sure that you, whether you’re a natural empath or not, can show your support to the people in your life going through the healing process.
RAINN’s current statistics reveal that survivors of sexual assault have difficulty managing interpersonal relationships after assaults. It could be a partner, a friend, a boss, a family member, anyone. This means more conflict and arguments, drifting apart, or even losing levels of trust. This kind of strain pushes a person into isolation—which can make matters worse.
This is why external support is really important—it can be the factor that stops isolation coping mechanisms in their tracks.
But Here’s How You Can Help
Here are some basic tips:
- Never blame a survivor of sexual assault for what happened to them.
- Make sure to practice engaged listening. A good rule of thumb is to remind yourself to listen to understand, not listen to respond.
- Make it clear that you are there to help, and will be there for them when they need you—being an open communicator is key.
- Be aware that people may not always want help—or need it. It’s okay to back off, people need their space.
- Trying is better than not trying—even if it doesn’t go well, it is better than seeming to abandon someone in their time of need.
- Encourage them to look into finding professional support; unseen pain can manifest so differently depending on the person.
- Just be there; sometimes a physical representation of support makes all the difference.
For more tips and in-depth discussion, visit RAINN’s page on helping survivors.
I try to remember that support is something that we, as humans, need. No one person has gotten where they are without help. Most good things requires time and patience, especially being there for someone you care about.