Safe Passage: Strategies to support survivors of assault

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Sexual assault is a devastating experience not only for the individuals who experience it, but for their friends and loved ones as well. It’s also something that is very hard to talk about, but that’s exactly what must be done in order to reach survivors and get them in contact with resources that can help them heal.

At Safe Passage, we hear a common myth on a regular basis related to sexual violence: that victims are “asking for it” or somehow did something to cause the sexual violence. There are a number of reasons why friends, family members—and even survivors—would think this way, but the fact is that there’s no behavior or circumstance that justifies sexual assault. Period.

You may have heard of the “flight, fight or freeze” response, which humans evolved to alert us to danger and to help us react in stressful situations, like a sexual assault. The best research is uncovering that there is no right or wrong way to react to trauma, especially sexual violence.

Here’s a few strategies that anyone can use to support survivors of domestic or sexual violence.

• Believe them.

• Acknowledge they’re in a very difficult situation, be supportive and listen.

• Encourage them to talk to people who can provide support, guidance and safety planning, like a Safe Passage Advocate.

The Safe Passage Crisis Line is staffed 24/7 by trained Advocates to provide non-judgmental information and resources to people experiencing domestic and sexual violence and anyone needing guidance on how to help a friend or loved one. Why not be a part of the solution right here in North Idaho, by volunteering at Safe Passage. Email kmiller@safepassageid.org or call Kristine at 208-664-9303 for more info.

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