April: Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Since 2001, the United States has recognized April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The campaigns focus is to raise public awareness and provide information to educate the community in order to prevent sexual assaults from occurring.
Rape and sexual assault continue to be one of the most under-reported crimes in the world. We also know that sexual assault, more often than not, goes hand and hand with domestic violence. It is a tool used to have a power and control over the victim. Just like domestic violence, sexual assault is a public health problem and needs community actions and solutions. Below are ways to support a survivor of sexual assault.
How You Can Support the Survivor
1. Believe the survivor: Remember that NO ONE DESERVES TO BE ASSAULTED. Remind the survivor that the assault was not their fault.
2. Be respectful of privacy and confidentiality: Don’t tell anyone about the assault without the survivor’s permission
3. Provide information
4. Let the survivor make their own decisions: Support the decisions the survivor makes, even if you might not agree with them.
5. Be aware of your desire to provide reassurance
6. Remind the survivor that you care: Let the survivor know you don’t see them differently, and that you are here to support them.
7. Give the survivor space if they need it
8. Be a good listener
DO concentrate on understanding the survivor’s feelings.
DO allow silences.
DO let the survivor know you are glad they disclosed to you.
DON’T interrogate or ask for specific details about the sexual assault.
DON’T ask “why” questions such as “why did you go there?” or “why didn’t you scream?"
DON’T tell them what you would have done or what they should have done.
(University of Michigan)
Sojourner is resource for victims/survivors of sexual assault. To speak to a legal advocate call 952.935.1004 or to contact our 24/7 crisis line call 952-933-7422.