By Valerie Rice | November 8, 2020
Alright readers,I do apologize (almost) for leaving you disturbed yesterday. I wanted you to be disturbed. I believe that until we are forced from our comfort zones we won’t be able, or possibly willing, to reach out beyond ourselves and help another. Basically, our empathy is more of a theory than an active component of ourselves. This is because we tend to internalize our lives and shut out what does not affect us. So if you were disturbed by yesterday’s post, Thank you! Let’s move forward with the next steps.
Unfortunately, the first thing many people are inclined to do is fix. That….is not going to happen. I am sorry. If someone reaches out to you, they need you to listen. Listening is a skill that can be incredibly difficult to master because it involves a whole lot of being quiet on your end. A calm and accepting silence is a difficult skill to master, but an important one. Sometimes just being there, present and peaceful, without judgement, is enough. You never really know because each situation is unique.
The last thing you want to do in this type of situation is force a report. Seriously. Law enforcement officers can be incredibly callous and the legal system is often terrifying. Not to mention that a report in the case of domestic violence can be life threatening. So do your best to follow the wishes of the survivor. There are numerous resources you can offer, like medical centers, counseling , and so on, but the LAST thing they need is someone telling them what to do. Sexual assault is about power and control, and they have just had that taken from them, so give it back by offering but not pushing.
This may sound obvious, but sometimes people need to know that it is not their fault they were assaulted. Because it’s not. Nothing ever validates that type of behavior. There is no such thing as leading someone on until they lose control, or boys will be boys, or asking for it. Ever. Now, louder for the ones in the back, NOTHING EVER VALIDATES ASSAULT. Good. it is never the survivor’s fault. Remind them of that. Just because we live in a rape culture doesn’t mean we have to accept it.
Yeah. the best thing ever. Once you get too far down and freak out, try thinking about nothing. Or their favorite thing. Or something entirely new, like how to turn radishes into spirals. or hey, maybe think about how elephants see humans how humans see puppies. We are not looking for a permanent fix here. YOUR job is to be the band-aid. The helper and support. Even if you are a professional, in which case you would know this, you can’t do the work. Just be the one who says “I got your back.”
Probably not yet, right? And neither will they. For a while. And that is okay. It takes time, like all healing. But at least you don’t have to go into this thing blind, like they did. The more you know, the better you can provide assistance. Here are some online sources for help. And here are some stats for education about sexual assault And here is more info on PTSD and Grief. See you next time. Remember to take care of you, and you’re loved ones. Be well.