Rape and sexual assault are crimes of violence, power and control. A rape or sexual assault occurs when a person is forced or threatened into engaging in sexual contact against her or his own will. This unwelcome sexual contact may include forced kissing, touching and intercourse.
Who should I look out for?
Someone the victim knows — a neighbor, family member, co-worker or someone they are already involved in a relationship with — commits more than 75% of all sexual assaults. No matter who commits the crime, the victim is never to blame for what happened.
Does anyone ‘ask’ for it?
NO! It is the rapist who decides to attack another person — no one asks or deserves to be violated. No matter what one wears or how one behaves, it is never the victim’s fault!
How can I stay safe?
People who assault others look no different than any other person. However, there are signals that may indicate that a person might not respect you. These signs may include: not respecting your wishes, talking about or looking at your body in a way that makes you uncomfortable, or trying to get you drunk or giving you drugs. Ignoring your feelings or refusing to listen to you could also be warning signs.
What should you do if you are raped or sexually assaulted?
First, get to a safe place. Once you are safe, you can:
Notify the police: You can file a report, press charges or receive information.
Seek medical care: You may have received injuries during the attack that require medical attention.
Have the hospital collect evidence. If you choose to report the attack to the police, try not to bathe, brush your teeth or use the bathroom until you reach the hospital. Evidence from the attack may remain that can be collected and placed into an evidence collection kit.
Seek emotional support. Remember, you did nothing to cause the attack. The assault was not your fault!
Call Hotline at 252-796-5526. A trained sexual assault victim’s advocate will meet you at the hospital or police station and stay with you during the medical exam and police interview. The advocate will help you find a counselor, keep you informed about the status of your case and make sure you understand each step of the process. Most importantly, the advocate will help you regain your power and control!
If you or someone you know has been raped or sexually assaulted, normal feelings may range from fear, anger, humiliation, embarrassment and depression, to disbelief, shame or guilt. Some victims may experience a loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping or may find it hard to trust others after the assault. Remember, the rapist did this to the victim; the victim is never to blame!
Regaining one’s sense of personal power and control is an important component of overcoming the trauma of a sexual assault. That is why victims should be called survivors, once their healing process had taken hold.
As the partner, family member or friend of a sexual assault survivor, it is often a difficult and exhausting task to manage your own anger, frustration, fear and/or guilt. Sexual assault violates a person’s sense of control over his/her own body and choices, causing some victims to fear they will not survive the crime. While you might want to take over or handle decisions in an effort to help, it is crucial to the victim’s progress that you support his/her efforts to regain personal power and control. Recovery may be slow and fraught with setbacks. Seeking additional information or even counseling for yourself may be helpful. Call the crisis line (252) 796-5526 to discuss feelings, to request assistance from Hotline’s professional staff, or to obtain a referral to a therapist skilled in this topic.
Basic helping strategies:
Believe and don’t blame: This is especially true when the assailant is known to the victim or the victim has made questionable choices about using drugs, alcohol, trust, etc. Remember, a sexual assault is NEVER the victim’s fault.
Encourage counseling: The path to recovery is different for each person. Choosing to talk with a therapist is not shutting you out. It provides another source of nonjudgmental comfort and support, removing the pain of the victimization from your relationship and allowing you and the victim to move towards recovery together.
Reach out to others: Support groups, education, information and encouragement from Hotline’s can help you regain perspective and provide important insights. Pretending it didn’t happened never works. Call our crisis line at 252-796-5526
Related Links and Numbers:
North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault: 1-919-870-8881
North Carolina Crime Victims Compensation Program: 1-800-826-6200
Rape Abuse Incest National Network: 1-800-656-4673
National Sexual Violence Resource Center: 1-877-739-3895