What are the Best Tips for Sexual Assault Survivors?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2018
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People often give contradictory advice to sexual assault survivors. No one knows how to best help each individual survivor heal from an attack because each case is unique. One tip that is applicable to all sexual assault survivors is that only the survivor can say what is right for him or her. Doing what feels right and comfortable after an attack is the best way to approach the healing process, and no person can tell a survivor what choices are the so-called right choices for his or her case. Even so, there are still some tips that apply to most sexual assault survivors, if not all.

One good tip for sexual assault survivors is to preserve evidence even if the victim does not feel as though pursuing legal action is a good idea. If no evidence is preserved, then it can be nearly impossible to prosecute the attacker. Preserving evidence keeps the choice open so that a decision can be reached at a later time.

Another common tip for sexual assault survivors is to talk about the incident. Many people believe that only by talking about trauma can the event be integrated into the mind in a way that is no longer traumatic. It may, however, take time before the sexual assault survivor feels emotionally stable enough to discuss the event fully.

Often, sexual assault survivors feel discomfort when entering into new relationships after the assault. In these situations and all others that involve uncomfortable contact, it is important to vocalize concerns and discuss what is and is not permissible contact. Other people may not understand why contact is uncomfortable or why a survivor reacts in a certain way. By setting up boundaries in advance and explaining the situation, a person can often avoid discomfort later.

Allowing oneself to grieve over the incident is more important than most people realize, and many people grieve over these incidents in different ways. While many sexual assault survivors attempt to bury the event and do so successfully, many others find that mourning the loss of trust and accepting that a certain relationship has been broken and abused is helpful when trying to heal. Thinking through the event in question and meditating on the implications in private can be highly therapeutic and can help prepare a survivor for working with others to make sense of the event. Ignoring the fact that sexual assault has happened is almost never successful in the long run and may eventually cause serious psychological damage, so this approach is not advisable.

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