The reality of sexual assault is heartbreaking both for the victims and their families. Devastatingly, one out of every six women in America has been the victim of an attempted or completed sexual rape in her lifetime and 2.78 million men have been the victims of sexual assault or rape (1). What is even more or equally terrible is that 60% of sexual assaults never get reported, and of those that do 97% of rapists never spend a day in jail (2).
Survivors of sexual assault are likely to suffer in a variety of ways due to what happened to them, including emotionally, mentally and even physically. Victims of sexual assault are (1):
~3 times more likely to suffer from depression.
~6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
~13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
~26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
~4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.
These effects on victims are incredibly devastating. So, what do you do if you know someone going through this? How do you help a victim of sexual assault? One of the most important things you can do is be a support system for the person. This may seem obvious but it’s extremely important, and often forgotten in the moment. This includes withholding any forms of judgment, and allowing the person to choose what they want to do- whether it's to report or have a sexual assault exam done at a hospital. You can also be someone the victim can lean on and express themselves to, but be mindful of your own needs, and be sure to guide them towards a licensed counselor if things become too heavy (3). There are also many sexual assault helplines for the victim, their families, and even friends.
They can also be reached online if you are more comfortable talking over the computer at :
RAINN also offers a SMS text messaging option:
55-247 (inside the US)
001-202-470-5546 (Outside the US)