I came across someone talking about how they didn't believe a rape victim. It upset me, so now I'm blogging about it. Lucky you.
Sexual assault is a crime. It is an intentional act that uses force, threat or abuse of authority. It covers rape, oral or anal sex, inappropriate touching, or the attempt to do these things. Discrimination does not exist with sexual assault--a victim may be any gender, race, age, or relation to their attacker. Anyone can be sexually assaulted, regardless of their social class, economic class, or lifestyle.
Rape is an act of violence, it's not an impulsive or uncontrollable passionate act. Most victims of sexual assault KNOW their perpetrator. No one "asks" or "deserves" to be assaulted, it doesn't matter how they dress or if the attacker thinks the victim asked for it. A victim who does not fight back is not consenting to the act, they are trying to be safe.
Statistics show that false reports make up about 2% of all reports. This is the same false report rate as other kinds of felonies. Most women who are reporting a rape are not trying to get even or get back at the man. Sexual assault is a violation of a person's body. The victim may feel humiliated, degraded, and may fear for her life. (*I say her as most victims are female, so don't be making comments about how men are victims too, I know that I used to work as an advocate for sexual assault victims)
Believe someone when they share this painful experience. The doubters are out there, and it's unfortunate that victims have to suffer additional trauma by not being believed. React the same way you would if they told you they were ill with some awful condition. It may be uncomfortable for you to discuss, but think about what she's going through and how difficult it is for her to share. Acknowledge and accept her feelings, don't deny them. Never blame them.
Victims of sexual assault can be affected in different ways. While each person is unique, there are many common feelings. Most victims are shocked and can't believe this happened to them. They may be angry, sad, depressed, afraid. It's okay for them to feel this way. Never tell a victim that what they are feeling is wrong.
There are some awesome people out there who can help someone who has been a victim of sexual assault. Check out the local agency near you for support or information. Or seeing a counselor is helpful for many as well.
Remember that as this person moves forward they may be a victim of this horrible act, they are a strong, courageous person.