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Melancholic Shivers: How To Survive Among The Monsters

If you're someone who's alive and walking around in the world, you know a survivor of sexual assault. The extent to which women, men, and transgender people (people who don't fit neatly into a male/ female gender binary) are sexually assaulted is unknown due to the elements of cultural silence, disbelief, and fear of violence that surrounds rape. Many, however, estimate that at least one in four women will be raped in her lifetime in the United States. For girls, rape is a worldwide outbreak. The estimates for men are lower, but these estimates are unreliable. For reasons this document will discuss later, it is nearly impossible to generate an estimated guess about the speed that violence is faced by transgender people, though we know it to be common. The point is: you understand survivors. They are not statistics; they're people that you love and care about.

Since you are taking the time to understand the prevalence of sexual assault and the emotional / psychological /spiritual /physical impacts that it has on individuals throughout their lives, people who have survived an assault will often look to you for understanding. This makes sense. As someone who might be trusted with information that others could ever know, themselves are identified by anyone in a culture full of silence. This list of principles is meant to assist you support someone in case you find yourself in a situation where you can.

The chief cause of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the United States, among other mental disorders, is sexual assault. Movements, touches, places, or words which remind a survivor of a moment; films or songs that refer to, or depict sexual assaults; unfamiliar and/or unsafe situations: all these phenomena can literally transfer a survivor back to the moment of the assault. Pay attention as these situations reveal themselves, and do everything you can to eliminate your involvement in them when you are around. Tread with care, when you find this behavior in friends that you don't understand to be survivors, and understand that this might be what's happening.

If you're a sexual partner of someone who's a survivor, whether you were a partner with them before, during, or after the time of the assault, be particularly cautious in your sexual relationship. They will not want to be sexual or even physically affectionate. Other times activity will be a great source of regaining their power. Be patient and permit them to set the pace and type and be aware that small actions can send survivors reeling. Read books about sexual assault and the psychology of survival. Understand the long-term consequences and work to assist your loved one heal.

Even if you are a survivor of sexual assault, this situation is not about you. Often, when people attempt to provide assistance to loved ones going through battle, they wind up trying to process their own feelings either with or indirectly through, the person that has been violated. This may be about past abuses that you have suffered or seen, anger about what has happened to somebody that you care about, concern yourself with how your relationship with the individual will change, some ego-driven desire for revenge, anything. By responding in this way, you aren't helping anyone; you are simply taking up space with your own concerns which should be occupied by the worries of the man struggling to survive.

''After women, flowers are most divine creations.'' - Christian Dior
''After women, flowers are most divine creations.'' - Christian Dior

If, due to any of the aforementioned situations (especially if you yourself are a survivor), you end up unable to put away your own process to support this person, be honest about this. Don't try to encourage someone when it isn't something that you are actually capable of. Continue to cure yourself a job to help the person that you love finders who are more able to help. One way to track this is to take care with what you say and how you behave. Consider what you are doing and why you are doing it before doing this. Think about why you want to say what you would like to say. Make certain it's not about some need that you have, no matter how justified you think it is.

Please know that this is just a list of ideas, suggestions. Every person responds to sexual assault in a way that is different, and our relationships differ from person to person. In general, a number of these tips will be helpful. But if you find that these tips aren't working out well, speak to someone who might have the ability to support you, and figure out how to continue to encourage the survivor in any way that they 1 need it. And of course, communicating with the survivor themselves is key; ask them what they want or need. Throughout this document, the pronoun "they" is used instead of "he/she" and the possessive "their" instead of "his/her" in recognition of the fact that not all people identify themselves strictly as either men or women. Transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, intersex people, and most all of us really, live lives outside of the narrow range of what our society says that a "man" and "woman" are supposed to be.

Make sure the person you are supporting is not in any serious threat. Work out ways to help them get out of it if they are. Protecting their lives is the first concern. Once security is guaranteed (at least for that particular moment), attempt to learn if they have any physical needs that must be attended to. Rape is a traumatic act of violence. It is not sex, and the body does not always respond to it like it responds to sex. Be sure that there are no imminent health complications. Due to a principle that we will discuss next, there may be nothing that you can do to ensure physical or safety well-being. If this is the case, continue to determine how you can be supportive and encourage the survivor to get themselves to a place of safety.

Recovering from a sexual assault won't happen in a day. It follows that there will ups and downs, periods that are good, and periods that are demanding. A survivor may experience many of these changes in a moment. Your consistency through these transitions is crucial. The recovery of every single person is unique. Do not give up on someone if it looks like things aren't going to turn around right away. Try something else. The positive effect that you can/will have is greater than you will know, so stick around and adjust the style of support you provide when it becomes apparent that you will need to.

The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), recently released new criminal victimization data for 2018. This report highlights data from BJS’s 2018 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), which is a nationally representative survey that surveyed approximately 160,000 people about crime victimization they experienced in the prior six months of the survey. It collects information on threatened, attempted, and completed non-fatal crimes (including rape and sexual assault, robbery, battery, etc.) and household property crimes (burglary, trespassing, car theft, etc.) from people ages 12 and older. The survey collects data on crimes that were reported to the police, and crimes that were not reported to the police.

You Can't save anyone. A survivor can only recover to the degree that they are capable of achieving at a particular time. If a person that you love has been assaulted, realize that, in a way, you have been assaulted too. You cannot be anything and everything at all times. Make sure that you're finding some support for yourself. Many people even suggest visiting a counselor or going to group therapy for yourself as you support someone through an attack recovery.

This statistic shows the annual number of males and females who were victims of rape or sexual assault in the U.S. each year from 2000 to 2018. In 2018, 652,676 women were raped or sexually assaulted while the corresponding number for men was 81,956.
Published by Statista Research Department,Nov 7, 2019

Encourage (carefully) the individual that you are struggling with to broaden their service network. Lots of people find a whole lot of value in one-on-one counselling, peer support groups, and many other support media. It'll be rare that one person will know how to adequately support someone else by means of this lifelong healing process by themselves. Mistakes will be made by you. Don't beat yourself up or disappear because you're not perfect. You won't be. Act with integrity and sensitivity, do not walk on egg-shells. Take care of yourself. You're no good to a survivor, if you are killing yourself.

Sexual assault on college campuses is a common problem that often goes unreported. It includes any unwanted sexual activity, from unwanted touching to rape. Alcohol and drugs often play a role in sexual assault on campuses. If you have been sexually assaulted, it is not your fault. You are not alone, and you can get help

Rape is about power and the theft of choice. A rapist has taken away perhaps the most fundamental right that any human being has, and one that women, people of color, trans people, and kids have stolen from them on a regular basis: the right to control one's own body. The impacts of this theft of choice may last a lifetime.

In order for you to be a healing agent in this individual's life, you need to immediately let them make decisions for themselves. Does she want to sit? How about stand? Would he talk about his place? Yours? Soda? Orange Juice? Water? Even the tiniest of choices must instantly be theirs to make. This is giving back some of the power that the rapist has removed.

In January 2018, SSH commissioned a 2,000-person, nationally representative survey on sexual harassment and assault, conducted by GfK. It found that nationwide, 81% of women and 43% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime. While verbal sexual harassment was the most common form (77% of women and 34% of men), an alarming 51% of women and 17% of men said they were touched or groped in an unwelcome way, and 27% of women and 7% of men survived sexual assault. Pro bono data analysis for the survey was completed by the UC San Diego Center on Gender Equity and Health. Their team, the team at Raliance and a dozen advisory committee members offered input and invaluable help throughout the process.

The same principle is true for big choices. Do you need to go to the hospital to be checked out? Do you wish to call the police? These decisions can be particularly difficult, so be patient, and help the individual that you are currently supporting find out exactly what is involved with making these decisions. Hospital visits and police reports may be violating as the assault itself, and might not be a safe choice for people of color and trans people. Many agencies that respond to rape survivors (including police, hospitals, and national violence/sexual assault resource centers) are, at best, unprepared to deal with the lived realities of people of color, LGBQ people, and trans men and women. They make with humiliation and violence. Your job as an ally is to help them determine what the consequences of the choices they are making are. But they need to have the capability to make any choice that they need to if they choose to not report to the police or go to the hospital and you think that they should. Be careful about very broad, open-ended questions (ex. "What do you want to do?). You may have to offer or suggest some choices that allow them to figure out how to get some of their own power back. Even the act of making simple choices may be difficult. You have to understand this. Offer suggestions, but be careful. Sometimes they can be very empowering to be able to choose from... sometimes they can be very disempowering. These choices, of course, also include those concerning physical affection/comfort. Don't assume that a hug is appropriate. Don't assume that being physically close is helpful. Ask, and follow their lead. This principle is particularly aimed at men in situations where a friend, family member or lover of theirs has been assaulted by another man. Is kicking a rapist's ass going to make the rape not have happened? Will his pain make the survivors go away? Does the survivor need to be trying to chill out another out-of-control, violent man? Probably not. Since non-trans men commit the overwhelming majority (some say over 99%) of sexual assaults, men who are supporting a survivor need to be especially conscious of the impact of male violence. It is male violence that causes rape, not what ends it. Your actions must be those of ending male violence. We cannot speak for the responses that survivors, women in particular, may make to rape. If women, as a majority of survivors, decide to collectively respond in a way that involves violence or asking male supporters to participate in violence, that is something for women and survivors to work out for themselves. For men who are supporting a survivor, however, it is essential that you put aside your desires for masculine retribution and interrupt the cycle of male violence. This rape, no matter how much you think it does, has nothing to do with you. This is not another man damaging property that belongs to you; he is not challenging your manhood. It is not your responsibility or right, to come in vigilante-style and take matters into your own hands. This is a particularly male perspective, and there is no room for your ego here. Unless you've been through a sexual assault, and even if you have, you're bound to not understand the majority of what the person you are supporting is going through. Because of this, if you start talking a lot in your conversations, you are bound to say something unhelpful. This sounds harsh, but it is an unfortunate truth. By being silent and allowing your friend to talk, you are preventing yourself from adding things to a conversation that doesn't need to be there. More importantly, by being silent, you are opening up a space for the survivor to reclaim their voice. Rape is silencing, so allowing a space for a survivor to use their voice is a powerful way to support them. Now, they have the control and can talk and be listened to if they want to. The rapist didn't listen. You can. Culturally, we don't value silence enough. Silence can be a very empowering phenomenon for survivors of sexual assault, and all other people who face violence in our culture.

Finally, do not judge the expressions that break the silence. They may need to rage; they may need to cry; they may need to write; they may need to clean the house. They may need to do anything other than think or talk about what they have been through. There is a limitless range of responses, and they all need to be honored and supported. Except in cases of threats of suicide or other self-destructive behaviors, any emotion that the survivor expresses must be supported and validated. Being believed is reportedly the #1 factor in a healthy recovery for a survivor of sexual assault. In a strong majority of cases, the rapist will not believe the survivor; the hospital won't believe them; the police won't believe them, and their friends and family won't to believe them. You have to. Even with a believing supporter, many survivors spend their lifetimes are struggling with themselves about what they might have done to prevent what someone else did to them. It is your job to assure them that they did whatever they needed to do to survive. Our culture will not affirm this and in doing so, will not believe them.

For a woman who is assaulted, she is subjected to the sexist notions that our society has about women and sexuality. If a woman is sexually active, then she is a "slut." If people continue to see rape as sex, then survivors will subsequently be branded as "sluts." You've heard it before. "She deserves what she got." "What was she in his area for anyhow? She must've wanted it." "What was she expecting, going out dressed like that?" There is nothing that a woman can do that would justify a man raping her. This deserves repeating: there is nothing that a woman, man, trans person, or child could do that would justify someone raping them. Because of racist stereotypes, women of color are often subjected to this dynamic in a particularly profound way. The bodies of women of color are seen as exotic, inherently sexual, and even dangerous territories that must be controlled. When men rape women of color, the "she must have desired it" stories reverberate loudly, even within communities of color (in fact, most rapes happen within racial groups, not across them). This must be challenged.


For a man who is assaulted, he is subjected to the sexist and homophobic notions that our society has about men and sexuality. Since a man is always supposed to be dominant, a man who is raped must not be a "real" man. His pain is something to be ashamed of, because he will be branded "homosexual" or "feminine," and our culture tells us that both of these identities are unacceptable for men. Men who survive rapes in prison deal with this plus our society's perspective that he has "gotten what he deserved." All of this will contribute to his silence.

Our homophobic culture teaches straight hate being confronted with the sexuality of gay/bi/queer men because it triggers their own fears that they themselves are gay or not "real" men. These fears lead to the homophobic rape of gay/bi/queer men and women and the transphobic rape of people who are discovered to be trans and/or are assumed to be gay/bi/queer because they aren't easily categorized as "men" or "women." Rape is rape, and its survivors must be believed in and supported. Trans survivors are often confronted with a double burden of proof when reporting a sexual assault. Not only do they have to prove what happened, but who they say they are. Legal docu-ments often don't reflect a trans person's preferred name or gender. This leads to more silence and vulnerability when dealing with police, hospitals, and support agencies. Never question a trans-survivor's gender identity.

From Hollywood to newsrooms to college campuses, the recent accounts of sexual harassment and assault by prominent men have been as horrifying as they have been unyielding. That dozens of women have come forward so publicly to share their experiences with sexual violence is all the more astonishing because the vast majority of victims never report the crime. Sexual assault is notoriously hard to quantify but it happens everywhere – in farm fields, on the night shift and in the military. And it happens more often than we might think. According to a new data analysis from researchers at the University of Michigan, by the time American women are in their mid-40s, a quarter of them will have been raped at some point in their lives. (Source: )

Because of the homophobia mentioned above, there is a great deal of silence about sexual assault that occurs within LGBTQ communities. Like communities of color, these communities are under assault from outside at all times. LGBTQ people, people of color, and especially LGBTQ people of color who speak out may be further silenced by pressure from inside their own communities, in order to keep from "airing dirty laundry" or protecting one another from outside threats. Both the external and internal pressures that create this silence and disbelief has to be challenged.

There is also a great deal of cultural myth built up around the false reporting of sexual assault and rape. Historically, and currently, false reporting was/is utilized as a racist tactic to justify the lynching of men of color (especially Black men) throughout the U.S. We take, understand, and must study. However, according to most law enforcement agencies today, the percentage is less than, or of reports of rape compares to, the percentages for the other crimes. This myth is a strategy to additional silence women (especially women of color), gay/bi/queer guys, trans people, and the rest of the survivors. Your belief in a survivor is essential.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Call: 800-232-4636

Regional Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222

Orange County Rape Crisis Center Main: (919) 968-4647 Crisis: (919) 967-7273 or (866) 935-4783 Durham Crisis Response Center Main: (919) 403-9425 Crisis: (919) 403-6562 Interact - Raleigh Main: (919) 828-7501 Crisis: (919) 828-3005 UNC- Chapel Hill Campus Health Services Phone: (919) 966-3658 Free Counseling: N. C. State University Counseling Center: 515-2423 24 Hour Rape & Sexual Assault Response Line: (919) 618-RAPE (7273) North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault Main: (919) 431-0995 Duke University Sexual Assault Support Services Crisis Information: (919) 681-6882 KIRAN

(Domestic Violence and Crisis Services for South Asians in North Carolina) Main: (866) 547-2646 North Carolina Central University Student Health and Counseling Services Phone: (919) 530-6317 North Carolina Council for Women Phone: (919) 733-2455 Gay and Lesbian Helpline of Wake County

Phone: 919-821-7095 Helpline: 919-821-0055 North Carolina Crime Prevention Association P.O. Box 1482 Goldsboro, NC 27533

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