How to Talk about Sexual Assault

TRIGGER WARNING: This article may contain sensitive information.

This week is National Sexual Assault Awareness Week, and I believe that sexual assault is one of the most serious issues facing college-age women and men. It feels like every week we are getting notifications of an assault happening on or around campus, but it often feels like nothing is being done, or no one is having their voices heard on campus.

With this being said, it is extra important to know that you’re not alone.

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According to the NSVRC, one in five women, and one in 71 men will be raped in their lifetime; one in three women and one in six men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. But I’m not here to talk about statistics, I want to address a major problem that survivors struggle with every day which is how to talk about surviving sexual assault.

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For more statistics visit the NSVRC website.

Before continuing, I do want to express that I will be referring to the typically labeled victim of sexual assault as a survivor because the women and men who experience this are truly survivors, and I believe in finding the strength in every person.

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After experiencing a traumatizing event it can be hard for the survivor to open up to friends and family about what she/he experienced. If your friend or family member, or really anyone opens up to you, believe them and believe their pain.

A survivor should never be blamed for their assault because we as humans always have free will, and if consent was not given, the survivor is not to blame for the actions of the perpetrator. Keep this in mind when discussing sexual assault because the survivor can harbor guilt for not being able to escape their situation.

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Be kind and be loyal. While traditional views are definitely being left behind in favor of more progressive ones, one of the worst things to do is abandon your friend because of previously held views. Your friend needs love and they need to be supported.

In this time, your friend is looking for just that, a friend. It is really difficult to open up about assault, but especially sexual assault. Be there to listen, and be there to care about YOUR friend; not what should have happened, not what could have gone differently.

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My favorite quote of all time is “have courage and be kind” from Cinderella, but it holds true especially here. Your friend will forever hold on to this assault but when they’re ready, this too can become a scar, but they will need your help in getting there.

If you are a survivor of sexual assault please, please, please remember you are NOT to blame.

From one survivor to another...

You are a SURVIVOR. Your pain is VALID. And most importantly, you are still a BEAUTIFUL and STRONG human being.

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Resources for how to discuss sexual assault:

Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center

Tips for Talking with Survivors of Sexual Assault

Talking to Your Kids About Sexual Assault

How To Talk To Your Boyfriend Or Girlfriend About Sexual Assault, According To Experts

 

Campus and Nation-Wide Resources (as found on CU Boulder's website):