If you learn a friend has experienced sexual violence, whether it was 10min ago or 10yrs ago, the best thing you can do is listen.
Don’t try to take charge and tell them what to do about it. This recreates the power dynamic experienced during the attack.
Everybody responds differently. Some very much want to report and get closure from doing so. Some have valid reasons not to.
Empower them to make these difficult decisions by being attentive and supportive. They need to regain a sense of agency more than anything.
There’s no How To Be A Rape Victim manual that gets handed to you at the end of an attack, and if there was I would tell you to burn it.
A rape survivor’s primary responsibility is to protect herself or himself.
It’s not fair to dump the responsibility of preventing future crimes by a rapist onto his victim’s shoulders.
Take a look at what happens to those who do report. You want more women to speak out about rape? Make that a safe choice for them.
It’s tempting to say, “You should report it so he can’t do this to someone else.” I get that.
But stop and think – how likely is our “justice” system to actually stop him? For how long?
Meanwhile, the process of reporting and prosecuting can retraumatize and further destroy a survivor’s life.
I spoke w/ a lawyer recently who told me he never advises clients to bring charges against their rapists until after they’ve had counseling.
I promise you, survivors feel enough guilt and shame without adding other people’s rapes to the mix.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault or rape, or if you want to learn more about it, visit https://www.rainn.org/ .