SexEd: Moving Through, Not Moving On...Surviving Sexual Assault

“[It’s] moving through, not moving on." These words were spoken by a survivor of sexual assault.

1 in 3 women will fall into this realm of statistics gathered year after year. With numbers there always seems some form of distance between figures and reality. Those stats are skewed, with higher rates among LGBQT+ communities and women of color. Male survivors are almost never mentioned. Media coverage tends to keep the focus on reliving the event or the perpetrator’s sentence (or lack thereof).  And it throws around the word victim like candy from a parade float.

This interview didn’t consist of the details of sexual assault. It wasn’t about what happened, where and timelines. While that may be where the story started, it does not help with moving forward, or in one survivor’s case moving through, to the next phase of their life. Knowing those details and diving into them over and over again does more harm than good to the survivor telling the story and those who read about it later. So instead she shared her life since, what’s been empowering, what has not and to let others know they are not alone in facing what was forced upon them.

When asked if she had any advice for those who have been through similar situations, the answer was straightforward. Put yourself first. Go to the hospital, get tested and know your options. Most importantly remind yourself that you are not to blame for someone else taking advantage of you. It is especially difficult when a lot of people don’t understand, but also know that there are people that do. Counselors, crisis centers, hotlines, people who make it their job to care about the well-being of survivors are out there and they are ready to hear your story. (Also understand who is a mandated reporter and who is not - there is a list identifying mandated reporters and other resources specific to the Lasell Campus and Newton Area below).

It is also okay to remind loved ones of what is empowering from a survivor’s standpoint. Instead of saying to someone, “you should do this” or “we need to do that”, give options, but never advice. This can be hard, especially if it’s a loved one. But after having control being taken away from a survivor, they are scrambling to get that control back. Telling them what to do isn’t the answer to the problem: it can just add another block in the road to their healing. “Everyone moves from victim to survivor in their own way,” and be conscious of that. Some people aren’t ready to talk about it right after an assault happens. Some people might never be ready to talk about it publicly. Provide instead the gentle reminder that they can do what feels best for them to do and they decide who to discuss it with. “You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to pursue any type of direction."  

This individual found that working to educate on the issue of sexual violence was a part of her healing process. That might not be right for everyone. It’s about finding a healthy outlet and supportive people that can be key to moving through to healing. It’s also okay if the healing process is not linear. There may be years where someone feels fine, and then one event (or story in the media) can trigger past feelings all over again. This is normal. We live in a world where every other news story is about sexual assault or lack of injustice so it can turn into one giant trigger fest.

This means it’s the job of everyone to be aware that this happens, and when it does we face a choice. Choose to empower, replace words like victim with survivor, speak up when someone makes a rape joke, or just listen to someone who needs to say the words out loud. Or choose to do nothing, which feeds the fire of the problem.

We have reached the Era of Empowerment.

Time to join in.

Speak up. Speak out. Speak now.

 

Mandated Reporters:

Faculty and Staff

Resident Assistants

Title IX Team-Who are all identified on the My.Lasell website under the Titile IX tab

 

Confidential Resources:

The Health Center (Nurses who can provide various testing)

The Counseling Center

The Center For Spiritual Life

 

Outside Lasell Resources (Confidential):

SANE Hospitals (Including Newton-Wellesley)

Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (24/7Hotline-800.841.8371, Counseling, Medical Advocacy)

Planned Parenthood (Health Options and Testing)