Celebrating 40 Years of Service to Alaskans by Providing Options, Support and Information to Survivors of Sexual Violence.
Recovering from sexual violence is a life-long process and looks a thousand different ways depending on the survivor. Struggles with intimacy, communication, triggers, and unhealthy coping skills are just a few issues that may create tension in a relationship.
Recovery and healing will only occur when the survivor is ready to face these challenges. Studies of rape recovery tell us that there is a period of time called the “Outward Adjustment Phase” where survivors may try very hard to act as thought nothing ever happened, it does not affect them, or they are “over it.”
This can be very a frustrating time for supportive family and friends because you may be able to see changes in their personality and unhealthy decision making.
Helping a survivor get through it may mean you need help to stay supportive. Don’t discredit your own experiences, frustrations, and challenges because the physical assault did not happen to you. Your mental health is crucial to the success of a survivor.
If you are feeling triggered, remember that It is never okay to overpower a survivor’s story with your own when a crisis has just occurred. However, if you are suddenly flooded with thoughts and memories of your own sexual violence victimization it is critical that you get support to process those feelings.
Just like your friend or family member, the story of what happened to you belongs to you. It is your choice to share your experiences or not. While it can be very comforting to a survivor to learn that you too have a history of trauma, you want to avoid turning the attention away from the immediate needs of the recent assault victim. It is best to create your own support system to process your trauma and then share your experience with your friend or family member when feels comfortable.
Need help some guidance in knowing how to be supportive? Call the STAR Crisis Line for support anytime. (907) 276-7273 or (800) 478-8999.
Believe Her/Him: There may be some confusion about details, but that doesn’t mean the person isn’t telling the truth. The assault is a traumatic situation and details can become confused.
Let Her/Him Know that the Assault is Not Her/His fault: No one asks or deserves to be assaulted. A person may have made some poor choices about her/his own behavior, but even so, no one ever deserves to be assaulted.
Listen Carefully: You may feel awkward, embarrassed or nervous; these are normal reactions. Let her/him know how you feel, but also express your willingness to help. Let Her/Him Know that You Care: Continue to give support for making the decision to tell you, but help empower the person by letting her/him make decisions for her/himself.
Let Her/Him Know that Their Feelings are Normal: Having intense mood swings or changes in eating habits or sleeping patterns can be a result of an assault. This is called Rape Trauma Syndrome. She/he may feel distrustful of everyone, may have a lot of fears or feel crazy. She/he isn’t going crazy. These are all normal reactions to an assault. Encourage her/him to seek help; one way is by calling STAR's Crisis Line at (907) 276-7273 or (800) 478-8999.
Support Her/Him for Talking about the Assault: Tell her/her that healing begins when she/he talks about the experience and the feelings surrounding the experience.
Be Confidential and Respect Her/His Privacy: Remember that she/he trusts you. Often it is difficult to listen to someone else's pain. It can cause strong feelings or reactions in you. If you want to talk about what you are feeling, contact a counselor or call STAR. Don’t talk to other friends or people who may not respect her/his privacy.
Don’t Pry or Ask Questions: Allow her/him to share the experience, as she/he is ready. She/he may not want to share specific information with you. Respect this boundary and don’t take it personally.
Respect Her/His Decisions: Support any and all decisions she/he makes about reporting the assault. She/he may have felt powerless during the assault and will need to choose for herself/himself to regain a sense of control.
Let Her/Him Know About Other People Who Can Help: Encourage your friend to seek help for her/himself. STAR is available 24 hours a day.
Take a walk
Exercise at the gym
Sit in the sun for 15 minutes
Change one thing to improve your diet
Get a massage
Deep breath and think, "I am calm and peaceful"
Listen to music you like
Pet your cat or dog
Acknowledge yourself for accomplishments you are proud of
Read a book or magazine
Make a to-do list
Write a letter
Make a list of short and long term goals
Connect with nature
Meditate or pray
Write about your spiritual purpose
Practice unconditional love and forgiveness with self and others
Self care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health. Good self care is a challenge for many people and it can be especially challenging for survivors of interpersonal violence and abuse. It can also be an important part of the healing process. Below are some great self care ideas to foster your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.
Survivors and victims of sexual violence are around us more than we know. If and when a person chooses to discuss his/her experiences, disclose to a medical provider, or confide in an employer it can be an anxiety producing situation for everyone.
With a little training and discussion you, your staff, and organization can be prepared for a crisis or disclosure. STAR provides 24 hour support for helpers in a variety of professions including medical, education, social services, and law enforcement. A quick phone call to our Crisis Line can give you to information you need to provide appropriate options for the survivor with which you are working.
Common Crisis Line calls from Community Professionals:
• Assistance handling disclosures
• Navigating mandated reporting questions
• Relaying adult reporting options
• Debriefing a difficult situation
• Information on investigative process and statutes
• Appropriate referrals for clientele
In addition to telephonic support, STAR also provides adult education and training to organization throughout the Anchorage bowl. Click here to learn more about STAR's Professional Training Presentations.
Another great resource is STAR's Handout "How Can I Help?: A Guide for Teachers, Care Givers, and Adults Working with Children." Click here to download a copy.
When someone we love experiences sexual violence, we may be impacted, too. It is normal for concerned loved ones to feel sad, anxious, stressed, and/or angry, among other emotions.
We are better able to help a survivor when we are also taking care of our own needs. Click on the Self Care Wheel (left) to find more ideas on how to manage stress and increase overall contentment.
Self care is just as important for the people supporting a survivor
as it is for the survivor him/herself
If someone you know has been raped, here are some ways you can help:
Local Crisis Line: (907) 276-7273 Statewide Crisis Line: (800) 478-8999 Business Line: (907) 276-7279
1057 W. Fireweed Lane, Suite 230 Anchorage, AK 99503 email@example.com TAX ID: 92-0071466