TW: sexual assault, rape, depression, trauma
I recently had a friend who was sexually assaulted and I was the only person they reached out to for help. I had no idea what to do or how to help. It was an awful feeling, helpless toward someone you care so much about when they really need you. After time had gone by and it was a little easier to speak about everything, we could speak about how I was helpful and what I could have done better as a support system. The point of this post is not to take anything away from the survivor, but to help those who are there to be the help, the support system, through these difficult times. After speaking with my friend, this is what I was able to gather.
That’s probably the biggest thing. Having someone that is simply willing to sit and listen to you helps more than people realize.
– Get them out of the house.
There are days where you want to do absolutely nothing but lay in bed and stare at the wall. Having someone get you to get out of bed and out of the house helps so much. It doesn’t have to be anything special. Go get ice cream, go to the park, walk around the mall, anything to stay busy and keep your mind off of things.
As corny as that sounds, it sucks being alone at night with your thoughts. Sometimes it gets really lonely feeling like you’re the only one who feels like you do. It helps a lot just having someone else in the room with you.
– Be available for random phone calls.
Sometimes things happen that trigger a panic attack, and the person just needs to talk. Just needs to hear a familiar voice on the other end of the line.
– Don’t tell them to get over it.
Don’t tell them to stop feeling sorry for themselves. There is nothing worse than being miserable and wanting so badly not to feel that way, but having someone tell you that you’re just being sensitive. They know that they are being a Debbie Downer, they don’t need someone else telling them too.
– If they don’t want to talk about it, don’t make them.
They will talk when they’re ready. Your presence is enough, and probably helping more than you realize.
Other things that helped: (from their perspective)
– Stay busy. put your negative emotions into something positive.
– Volunteer; nothing makes me happier than helping someone else.
– Work out; this was probably one of the biggest things that helped me. Also, if you have a friend that can go with you, that helps too. Especially on mornings where you can’t get yourself out of bed. If there’s a friend that is counting on you to show up, that makes it easier to actually get up.
– Set goals. and reach those goals. Knowing you’re improving and not standing still can be really empowering…corny I know, but it helps.
– Paint, or do art. I painted. A lot. find something that eases your stress and gives you an emotional outlet. Something you do just for yourself and nobody else.
Obviously everyone is different. Every situation is different in some fashion. While this problem of sexual assault needs to be eliminated, it is best to figure out how we can handle things while it is still prevalent.
If you are able to talk about it, what helped/didn’t help you? What advice would you give to past, current, and future allies? This can be an open forum to assist those in similar situations. We would really love to hear your thoughts!