If you are a friend, spouse, or parent of someone who survived sexual abuse like rape, we are happy to welcome you to this blog. We know that offering support to family and loved ones after a sexual assault or rape can be devastating, and we are grateful for being there for your loved one who survived.
When you know that someone you care about or love has been harmed, you may feel depressed and overwhelmed. There are times when both the survivor and the supporter battle with helplessness and anger after the traumatic event, and it will certainly take quite a while to respond.
For a lot of survivors, support is a vital aspect of the recovery process, and getting affectionate and validating reactions from family and friends can indeed make a significant difference.
You may have trouble finding the right words to say to help ease your loved one’s pain, but it’s okay if you don’t know everything. You can listen and be there for your loved one for support. Let the survivor know that you love them, you don’t judge them, and you trust in them. Sadly, there are no easy solutions for recovery from sexual assault, so it crucial that you are persistent when the process is taking longer than usual.
Aside from finding the means to support your loved one, you must do well to maintain your mental and emotional well-being. You might feel alarmed by the severity of your own emotions. It can be useful to acknowledge that it is common for families and supporters to live through their anger and frustrations. Recognize the effect that this event has on you, and find outside support systems for yourself. Caring for yourself can make it easier to help others.
Spouses Of Rape Or Sexual Assault Victims
Most of the services that offer help and support to survivors and victims of sexual assault or rape also offer counsel for their spouses. For a spouse or partner to see someone that they love devastated by rape, this will undoubtedly make them feel a lot of negative and depressing emotions. Many spouses feel rage against the abuser and guilt and anger toward themselves because they were not able to safeguard their partner. All of these feelings can be remedied with the help of a counselor. As a partner of a sexual assault survivor, you will require emotional and mental resources and the strength to support your traumatized partner and be available for them successfully. Hence, you should seek ways of venting your emotions safely and get as much love and sustenance for yourself.
Your loved one may not behave reasonably at times or may inconsolably burst into tears. She may have outbreaks of anger, aggression, and mood shifts one minute and then feel withdrawn and depressed the next minute, isolating herself and not wanting any physical contact with you.
Helping The Survivor
Trust in what your traumatized loved one tells you and keep yourself from asking too many queries, or she might feel that you don’t trust her or what happened to her. Your loved one did what she felt was necessary for her to survive that fateful event. She may or may not choose to report what happened right away to the enforcers, but this is not the time to force her to do what you want. Your loved one needs to feel in control of her situation, as she probably feels that this control and respect have been taken away from her when she was sexually assaulted.
Ask her if there’s anything you can do for her if she has anxiety or nightmares. Acknowledge that your spouse may behave erratically and may even push you away for a time because she doesn’t want to be touched. Don’t think that she is rejecting you, and she doesn’t love you. She needs more time to regain confidence and recover from what happened. Ultimately, reassure your loved one that you love and support her all the way.
Family And Friends
It is truly devastating for families and significant others to have someone they love suffer from the pain and trauma of being raped or assaulted. Families can feel helpless without knowing the right words to say. Providing time and support for them is a great help to the individual who has gone through the ordeal. If they finally want to talk and you are there for them, then you will be their comfort and strength. However, most rape victims have trouble talking to family and close friends for fear of causing them stress and anxiety.
Do not ever force the rape or sexual abuse survivor to talk about what happened to her and to accept why it did. Recognize the fact that she may have erratic moods, may present with depression, maybe in denial, may cry inconsolably, may choose to stay in her room the entire day, or display anger or rage towards anyone – even to you.
The best thing you can do for your loved one is to be with her and help her build her confidence again. You can ask her what she needs. Who knows, she might want a hug from someone she completely trusts.