Wednesday, August 14, 2013

When Someone Comes to You, What Will Your Reaction Be?

Whether we realize it or not, all of us know people whose lives have been impacted by sexual assault. As many as 1 in 6 women will experience rape in their lifetime, and as few as 16% of sexual assaults are reported to police (see CounterQuo for a full analysis of sexual assault stats). 

The way that we respond when a friend or family member tells us about sexual assault makes all the difference. The campaign Start by Believing offers guidance and advocacy to encourage our culture to stand with survivors of sexual assault and to always let survivors know, “This is not your fault.” Their website is filled with information for allies and law enforcement:

CAASE’s founder Rachel Durchslag, wrote the following reflection about supporting a friend who was sexually assaulted (TRIGGER WARNING):

When a friend experiences a sexual assault it as if the world turns gray. Sounds become almost muffled, and the heaviness one feels in their heart- crippling. When a friend experiences a sexual assault sadness invades the cells of one’s body, and tears linger constantly behind misting eyes. The friend is overwhelmed with the injustice of it all and left with a revolving door of “whys”- why people harm others for their own sense of power, why sexual assault is still tolerated (and sometimes encouraged), and why perpetrators mostly go free when the victim is left with mountains of emotional trauma. 

It is an unfair world when people rape. It is an unfair world when those we love are hurt. But it is the world in which we live. 

Within this overwhelming darkness still shines a light. It is the light that is the human capacity to heal. It is the light of amazing activists who dedicate their lives to making this world safer for us all. And it is the light of thousands of survivors and allies who turn hate into love, pain into forgiveness, and hurt into healing. 

For more information about CAASE's legal services for survivors of sexual assault, visit For more information about local resources for survivors, visit The local Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline number is 1-888-293-2080.

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