Supporting Survivors of Sexual Violence
April is Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month (SAAPM). At In Power, we wanted to highlight some helpful tips for loved ones of survivors. Sexual assault affects the lives of over 79 million Americans today, and this number includes people of all genders, ethnicities, races, sexualities, and ages.
If you don’t consider yourself a survivor, it is likely that someone in your life is. For those of us who are survivors, having a loved one experience sexual harm can bring about a variety of feelings – all of them valid. Pay attention to what comes up for you while caring for your loved one and ask yourself these questions:
- What support did I need when I was harmed?
- What support did I receive?
- What do I wish had been different?
- What choices did I have access to in that moment?
The answers to these questions are helpful to remember and honor as your own survivor narrative. However, what you needed in that moment may be different from what your loved one needs. While a survivor has a right to file a police report, access a medical forensic exam (following an acute assault), or access trauma therapy, they are not required to access these supports right away (or at all). It’s important to remember that sexual harm involves someone’s choice and agency being taken away from them, and in your supportive role you can be helpful by supporting the return of that choice and agency back to the survivor.
For additional resources, or to receive support after sexual assault, please contact In Power, Howard Brown Health’s sexual harm response program, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are here to support you in health, in pride, and in power.
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. (2015). National intimate partner and sexual violence survey: 2015 data brief – updated release. Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/2015data-brief508.pdf