5 Ways to Help a Loved One Cope With
Campus Sexual Assault
In 2015 Stanford student Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman at a party. This was the beginning of one of America's most high-profile campus sexual assault cases in recent history.
After a publicized trial and an extremely lenient sentence, many were left appalled at how colleges deal with sexual assault, spurring important conversations about an issue that has long been ignored.
The truth is, campus sexual assault is devastating and all too common. Supporting a survivor of assault can be incredibly difficult, but it's important that you are gentle to avoid further traumatization. Below are a few things to consider when helping a loved one cope with campus assault.
As a family member or friend, your role is to offer the survivor unconditional support. This starts with making yourself available.
You could offer a safe space for the victim to recover or just spend time with them and lend an ear. This could also involve running errands like transporting this person to and from appointments, making them dinner, or just making sure they take care of themselves.
Encourage Them to Seek Medical Attention
In any case of sexual assault, it is advised that survivors go to a healthcare facility as soon as possible. This is so that they can receive treatment for any injuries and be tested for possible STIs.
Assure the victim that this is necessary, but be gentle. Procedures vary from state to state and across different facilities. The WHO has provided a guide on recommendations for healthcare practitioners in dealing with sexual assault, to give the survivor some idea of what to expect.
Seek Therapy or Counseling
Trauma from sexual assault can have devastating effects if survivors are not given adequate mental health support.
You should gently encourage the survivor to seek help from an organization like RAINN or a registered therapist. Registered counselors and therapists are trained in debriefing victims and providing a space for them to process their trauma.
Be Gentle, not Judgemental
When the survivor confides in you, practice activelistening. Active listening means being non-judgemental, paying attention to the survivor's needs, and not becoming overly emotional or angry. Be mindful of your own feelings and boundaries, but try to hold space for the survivor, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the assault.
It's also essential that you maintain a relationship of trust, and you don't share details of the assault with anyone unless the survivor has given consent.
You may want to seek justice and take action against the perpetrator, but this isn't up to you. Sexual assault can make survivors feel powerless. The best thing you can do is empower the survivor by giving them control over their choices.
Seek Legal Advice
It’s always best to seek legal advice when reporting an incident of assault and compiling a case.
When choosing a legal service, it’s important to find someone who understands that the survivor must be treated with care. Lawyers who specialize in campus assault cases will have experience dealing with survivors and be more likely to show compassion and understanding throughout the process.
They should also be well-versed in the federal and state laws regarding campus sexual assault cases. If you're looking for a specialist in campus assault cases, see more info here.
Dealing with Campus Sexual Assault: Taking Back Control
Campus sexual assault can be devastating for survivors and those close to them. This article has provided a few basics when it comes to helping survivors cope in the aftermath of an assault. Listening to survivors and treating them with care is the first step in building a foundation to overcome trauma.
For more posts on the latest in physical and mental healthcare, check out our health section.
Did you find this article helpful? Share your thoughts with friends...