How to help Rape Victime become Rape Survivors- Part I

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When someone is raped, or sexually harassed, it is worse than the worst nightmares for them- their world comes crashing down with one blow. They have been wronged, they have been violated, sexually and mentally. Raping is the most intimate way to violate someone’s dignity, to destroy someone’s mental peace, to try and destroy them. How does one deal with that? Is it possible to come out of it? Yes, it is. But they can not do it alone. They need the support and love of their loved ones. And if you happen to be that loved one, this article is about what you should do.

Most of us, thankfully, have only heard of rape cases, never been involved in close quarters with one. But with the growing crime rate in our country, it is always best to be prepared, for any untoward situation which might take place. Being the trusted one, or being the one to whom a rape victim comes for help, is not an easy thing to deal with. We obviously don’t expect such things to happen with someone we know. And it is SO easy to say the wrong thing, unintentionally, or display an emotion, which they take in a wrong way. Because at that moment, they are mentally destroyed.

Every rape victim does not react in the same way. Some are devastated, some are angry, some are full of self-pity, some are full of self-blame. In that frenzied state of mind, any such response is natural.

The FIRST and foremost thing to do, when someone calls you for help, is to immediately go there, and take them to a doctor. Seeking medical attention, is the primary step in dealing with the aftermath of a rape or sexual abuse. Some victims, might not want to go to the police immediately, that must be respected, but going to the doctor is a must. There can be several internal and external injuries, as well as chances of pregnancy, and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. Receiving immediate treatment can save a lot of complications and sometimes even save lives.

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A basic feeing among all rape victims is that they feel “dirty”. Their sanctity has been violated, they feel “impure”. Again, a natural response. But they MUST NOT shower immediately, no matter how strong the desire is. The doctor can collect evidence from them, and their clothes and this will help in convicting the rapist. This is a VERY important thing, even if the victim does not want to press charges. What if they change their minds later on? And in fact, after they are a little stable, pressing charges is the right thing to do. No matter what it takes to convince them, you MUST take them to the doctor.

After visiting the doctor, the second thing to be done is that the clothes of the victim, or anything else which they were carrying, must not be thrown, burnt, or given for a wash. It must be kept away, sealed in plastic. Seeing those clothes, can remind them of the attack, but their clothes also prove to be very important evidence. Do not keep them in a place, where they can see them, but keep them very safely.

After these steps, comes the hardest part- helping them emotionally. Victims of rape or sexual abuse, heal physically with time, but sometimes even an entire lifetime is not enough for them to heal mentally. You have to keep reminding them that they are not alone, that you and all their loved ones are with them. Also, you have to remind yourself, that every person responds differently to being raped. Do not ‘expect’ them to react or behave in a particular way. It is unpleasant to see someone suffer in front of you, but do not let it show on your face. YOU have to be strong for them to be strong.

Sometimes the victims are so overcome with grief, that they blame themselves. They are convinced it was their fault, that they must have done something to ‘invite’ the rape. But that is NEVER the case. They are never to blame, and you must keep repeating that to them. The only person who is to blame, is the person who has committed such a heinous crime.

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Victims of rape lose the ability to trust anyone again. They feel scared all the time, they feel everyone is eyeing them suspiciously, they feel every person is looking at them in a ‘dirty’ way. This is one of the toughest things to regain-the ability to trust others again. But you must do everything possible to make them comfortable again, to make them feel safe. You need to realize that a huge responsibility has been placed on your shoulders, from the moment you have received that call, and you MUST do everything possible to help. Listen to them, as many times as they want to repeat whatever happened. No matter how many times they keep saying the same thing. It is natural for you to be angry as well. You also feel wronged, you also feel angry and hurt, but do not let them see it. You need to be positive, you need to listen, and you need to show them the hopes of a brighter tomorrow.

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