It goes without saying that when someone has survived a hugely traumatic sexual assault incident they will need time and support to come to terms with what has happened to them.
The legal guidance and support of a sex crimes attorney can often prove invaluable in dealing with the facts of the matter and seeking justice for what has happened to them. In addition, a sexual assault survivor will need a tremendous amount of support from everyone around them.
This is such an emotive and distressing scenario to contend with it can be very difficult to know what to say or do when you want to express and provide the sort of support the victim really needs.
It is not unusual to feel a bit hesitant or even confused about what you should say or do to give them the right support.
Here is a look at some of the dos and don’ts when it comes to expressing your support.
Criticism is rarely helpful
Even if it is not your direct intention to criticize a survivor in some way for the circumstances that led to their sexual assault, it can be all too easy to come across as being critical.
It is always a good idea to try and keep in mind that anyone can become a victim of abuse at any time, and under almost any circumstances.
Avoid any potential criticism that could imply that their handling of the situation could have potentially created a better outcome. This will only add to their feelings of guilt.
Show plenty of understanding
Something positive that you can do in these traumatic circumstances is to display a fair amount of empathy and understanding.
The best approach is often to lend your ear and become a really good listener.
Letting a victim speak freely and showing a good degree of understanding about what they have been through will help them to appreciate that you understand you were not in a position to prevent the attack from happening.
Show some guidance on feelings of guilt
Survivors often have overwhelming feelings of guilt and somehow think that what happened to them was their fault in some way.
A good way of helping them would be to show them that there is a clear distinction between feelings of guilt and the classic “if-only” feelings that focuses on whether what they said or did could have produced a different outcome.
Provide reassurance without being controlling
One of the most important things you can do to help a survivor is to provide them with a lot of reassurance and support that you are there for them whenever they need someone to talk to.
What you should avoid doing is to try and take control of the situation and become too protective.
Sexual assaults tend to make survivors feel like they have lost control. To counteract these feelings it is essential that you avoid being too controlling or protective. Instead, encourage them to make their own decisions so that they can regain an element of control in their life.
It takes time to find a way to start healing the scars of a sexual assault. The best thing you can do to help a survivor is to understand what they have been through and think about how best you can provide the right level of support.