When someone you care about discloses sexual assault, it can be difficult to know how to respond. Survivors need positive support from loved ones and community resources to help them heal and find justice.
The most important thing you can do is listen. Avoid asking investigative questions or implying that the survivor’s story isn’t true.
Sexual assault can take a significant emotional and financial toll on victims, including the need for medical care and lost wages. Survivors may be entitled to compensation for these losses, as well as non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
Listening is the first step in helping victims. Victims may need to talk about the incident multiple times and recount details that were blocked due to trauma or shock. Taking the time to carefully and sensitively listen to these details can help unblock memories and may reveal information that could aid in evidence collection.
It is also important that lawyers for sexual assault cases know how to respond to survivors’ questions. They should be empathetic and respectful, not interruptive or dismissive. They should offer suggestions for the next steps but remain clear that they are there to support the victim in any decision she makes. They should also be able to determine liability and the amount of money that survivors may be entitled to.
Supporting the Survivor’s Legal Needs
The initial aftermath of sexual assault can be overwhelming. While getting medical care and reporting the crime is important, it is equally essential for victims to get emotional support. Survivors need someone to believe them, and to affirm that what happened was not their fault. It is also a good idea to talk to a therapist or a sex victim advocate and make sure that survivors are up to date on their STIs.
Survivors should know that while a criminal prosecution can hold the rapist accountable, they may be eligible to pursue civil damages for their pain and suffering. A skilled sexual assault lawyer can help a survivor discover additional avenues for recovering compensation.
Whether it occurs in schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, or campuses, sexual violence undermines the sense of safety and trust within communities. It can lead to poor job performance, financial hardship, substance abuse, mental health issues, and even incarceration for some survivors. This is why it is important for individuals, companies, and organizations to disrupt the culture of silence that allows sex crimes to persist.
Supporting the Survivor’s Physical Needs
The emotional, physical, and financial costs of sexual assault can be debilitating. Victims often require ongoing treatment, therapy, and medication. They may also experience a loss of income due to missed work. Fortunately, victims are entitled to compensation from their attackers in civil court. Our team will work to hold the perpetrator accountable and ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries and suffering.
If you are a friend or family member of a survivor, it’s important that you listen to them without judgment. It’s also important to understand that it takes courage to speak about the incident and that they may experience a range of emotions during and after the conversation.
It’s possible that your loved one will want to report the incident to the police. If they do, it’s a good idea to remind them that calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline can be done anonymously and won’t appear on their phone bill.
Supporting the Survivor’s Emotional Needs
When a friend, family member, or coworker shares that they have been sexually assaulted, you want to be supportive. However, you may feel unsure about how to respond. It’s important to remember that the survivor likely came to you because they consider you a trustworthy person, and their trust has been violated.
Reassure the survivor that they are not to blame, and remind them that what happened was inexcusable. Avoid asking “why” questions that could make the survivor defensive or cause them to relive the incident in their mind.
It is also helpful to let the survivor know that you are available if they would like to talk more about their experience or to find support systems in their community. Remember, sexual violence can have a ripple effect in communities, impacting families, friends, and employers. Providing information about local and national resources can help.