Sexual Assault

Disoriented sexual assault victims looking down, trauma syndrome, support center

About 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men have been sexually assaulted, and for many survivors the pain lasts much longer than the attack itself. Sexual assault can leave survivors suffering from both long-term and short-term after effects. Many are struggling with mental health issues long after the event, such as depression, PTSD, and substance abuse. Research shows that roughly 80% of teenage girls that have been assaulted suffered from at least 1 mental health disorder 4-5 months after the event.

This is obviously an issue, but what can be done to help survivors of assault recover in the healthiest way possible? Many suggest that telling someone is a great way to break the ice. Knowing that you’re not alone is a huge relief for many survivors. Having someone to talk to without judgment can help survivors get things off of their shoulders, and give them a support system that will stick by their side. 

By far the best way to help someone who has been sexually assaulted, if they trust you enough to tell you about it, of course, is to be a patient listener. Make sure that you tell them that it is not their fault, and that you’re there for them no matter what. Most importantly, respect their boundaries and safety. Remember; this isn’t about you. If someone doesn’t want to talk about it, don’t pressure them into talking about it. If they don’t want your advice and just need to get something off their chest, just let them get it off their chest. It can be a painful experience to relive trauma, and overstepping isn’t going to help the survivor. 

Cited Sources:

Stamoulis, Kathryn. “7 Ways to Help a Teen Survivor of Sexual Assault.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 19 July 2012, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-new-teen-age/201207/7-ways-help-teen-survivor-sexual-assault.

“Help Someone You Care About.” RAINN, rainn.org/articles/help-someone-you-care-about.

Campbell, Denis. “80% Of Teenage Girls Suffer Serious Mental Illness after Sexual Assault.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 22 July 2018, www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/22/sexually-abused-teenage-girls-likely-suffer-mental-health-issues-months-later-study.

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