Cambridge for Consent

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If someone in your life has survived a sexual assault, they may come to you for support and help. This can be a very difficult process, and knowing that somebody you care about has been hurt may leave you feeling helpless and angry. Coming to terms with your own emotions is equally as important as supporting the survivor and it will allow you both to move forward.

 

During this process, try to keep these tips in mind:

 

 

  • Listen to and believe the survivor. Affirm the survivor's decision to confide in you.

 

  • Help the survivor understand that the sexual assault was not their fault.

 

  • It's natural to feel anger, helplessness, grief, or sadness. It is helpful for you to deal with these emotions so that you can be an effective support person. Centres (such as Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre) offer free and confidential services to families and friends of survivors.

 

  • Educate yourself about the survivor's options. This will help clear confusion for both of you, and promote faster healing and recovery.

 

(from http://www.surviverape.org/forensics/supporting/families-friends)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How you can help:

 

It can be difficult to know what to say to help a loved one. You are not expected to have all the answers, and sometimes just simply being there is a fantastic source of support for the survivor. Make sure that your loved one knows that you care, that you don’t blame them, and that you believe in them. Moving on from a sexual assault is a long and lengthy process, and, unfortunately, there are no quick or easy fixes. The healing process for a survivor may take years. New memories may surface, and new experiences may trigger them – but you must remain patient and supportive.

 

Some useful tips to help you support a survivor are:

 

  • Offer to accompany them to a therapy session.

 

  • Be there when they want to talk and don’t pressure the survivor to reveal all the details of the event.

 

  • Don't be afraid of silence; if you don't know what to say, that's okay. The most powerful statement a friend can make is by simply being there, not trying to fix everything or pretending it's okay.

 

  • Review facts and myths about sexual abuse and assault. It is crucial to understand the basic facts, and for secondary survivors to examine their own attitudes and feelings in order to be a positive support. Don't allow the myths to affect how you perceive the survivor.

 

  • Depending on your relationship with the survivor and the trust they have in you, they may experience a flashback or panic attack in your presence. It can be frightening and difficult to know what to do during a situation like this, but details of how to cope with this and help the survivor can be found here:   http://www.pandys.org/articles/tipsforfriends.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If a survivor chooses to talk to you about the abuse or assault, and you are uncomfortable about it, please say so. Let the survivor know you aren't uncomfortable with them, only the issue. Then offer to find someone who is comfortable supporting them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to say:

 

 

Things that may be HELPFUL to say to a rape or sexual abuse survivor:

 

  • I'm sorry this happened to you.

 

  • It wasn't your fault.

 

  • Thank you for telling me.

 

  • I'm always here if you want to talk.

 

  • Can I do anything for you?

 

Things that you should NEVER say to a rape or sexual abuse survivor:

 

  • It was your fault.

 

  • You could have avoided it had you ____________.

 

  • It's been so long! Get over it! 

 

  • You wanted it.

 

  • It's not that big of a deal; it happens to lots of people.

 

  • I don't believe you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dealing with your emotions:

 

Supporting a survivor is one of the most valuable things you can do to help their healing, but it also can be very emotional and distressing for you. Alongside finding ways to support the survivor, it is very important to maintain your own well-being. You may find yourself feeling alarmed by the intensity of your own feelings and it is completely natural for supporters to experience their own feelings of shock, anger and devastation. Taking care of your needs can make it easier to provide support to others. Here are some tips that you may find useful:

 

  • Take time for yourself. This will help in two ways: you will not become burnt out as a supporter and the survivor will not become dependent on you to meet all of their healing needs. Go out with friends, get a good workout in, do something fun. It is totally okay to distract yourself.

 

  • Spend time processing your emotions. It is fine to tell the survivor how you are feeling, too. It can be very validating for them to hear that you are so angry and sad over what happened. At the same time, avoid showing very strong emotion when you tell them so that they don’t feel responsible for your emotions. And try not to rely on the survivor for emotional support. Talk to other friends, or access the support networks at centres such as the Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre. Sitting down to talk with people who are experiencing many of the same emotions provides support and a sense of companionship.

 

     (from http://www.pandys.org/index.html)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your support is an amazing gift and will help the survivor through a very painful time. But don't forget to offer yourself the same compassion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Role of C4C:

 

Please take note that this is a website to direct people to resources as best we can, we are unable to provide any personal support as we are not professionally trained to do so.  

Supporting a survivor