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About Sexual Assault

Facts About Sexual Assault

The use of gender specific pronouns is for sentence simplification.
CARDV services are available for all qualifying individuals.
For more information please visit: http://www.rainn.org/ or http://www.ocadsv.com/

Some Statistics about Sexual Assault

Consent vs. Coercion

Consent is...

Coercion is...

The use of force or intimidation to obtain compliance. In every case of sexual assault, some form of coercion or force is used. This force ranges from emotional coercion to threats or physical force.

If You Are a Survivor of Sexual Assault

It was NOT your fault. The perpetrator is solely responsible for his actions.

Place the blame where it belongs. Guilt or self-blame is a frequent response to sexual assault. Survivors worry that they could have prevented the assault. Choosing to make-out, stay out late, or wear certain clothes does not cause someone to sexually assault another.

It's OK to be angry. Survivors tell us they feel a wide range of emotions: anger, shame, dirtiness, shock, fear, guilt, helplessness, disbelief, exhaustion, and depression. These feelings are normal; give yourself time to process them.

Nightmares and flashbacks are normal. Nightmares are a common, often terrifying, response to traumatic events. Many survivors also experience flashbacks; intense feelings of re-experiencing the assault. Flashbacks are often triggered by a sight, smell or sound connected with the assault.

Seek support. You do not have to deal with this on your own. When you're ready to talk, contact an advocate, counselor, supportive family member or trusted friend. The CARDV hotline is available 24 hours a day. There may also be a support group in your community, which many survivors find to be a beneficial part of their healing process.

It is possible to heal from sexual assault. It will take time and work, but healing is possible, and it's worth it. You have already survived the hardest part on your own; you don't have to do the rest alone.

Contact CARDV. CARDV offers 24 hrs/day support via our hotline at 541-754-0110 or 1-800-927-0197. CARDV advocates are available to meet with you in person for support or can accompany you to the hospital, to law enforcement if you decide to report, or can attend legal proceedings with you. CARDV also holds a weekly Sexual Assault Support Group – call the Hotline for more information regarding time and location.

How to Support a Survivor of Sexual Assault

Survivors tell us these things may be helpful...

Believe her. Let the survivor know that you believe her.

Listen to her. Offer non-judgmental, non-blaming listening. Listen with compassion without asking questions that begin with why, or imply that she is responsible in any way for the assault. Let her express her feelings in a time and manner that is comfortable for her.

Be empathetic. Place yourself in her shoes, and try to see the situation from her point of view. Be patient, gentle, and encouraging while you listen. Validate her feelings by paraphrasing what she's told you and reflecting them back to her.

Be non-judgmental. Focus on what the survivor is telling you, and listen to what she needs. Avoid statements that question her actions or place blame on her.

Tell her she's not alone. Sometimes survivors find it helpful to join a sexual assault support group; the support of other survivors can be very powerful.

Respect her decisions. Let her make her own choices without pressure, including her decision to report or not report the assault. This is an important part of the healing process. It is her life, and she needs to be allowed to regain some of the control that she has lost.

Encourage her to seek additional support. Let her know it's OK to contact an advocate at CARDV or a professional counselor to help her work through the feelings she is experiencing. Remember, you can still continue to support and listen to her. Helping her build a strong support network is one of the best things you can do.

Take care of yourself. Supporting someone through such a traumatic experience as sexual assault can be very emotionally draining. Remember that the CARDV hotline and support services are for you, too.

Adapted from resources at the Sexual Assault Resource Center and
the Oregon State University Sexual Assault Support Services.

Rape Trauma Syndrome

When an individual is raped or sexually assaulted and experiences trauma and terror, their daily lives are disrupted emotionally and physically. Survivors of sexual assault frequently report symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well; these symptoms can last for years. This pattern is also referred to as Rape Trauma Syndrome.

1. The Acute Phase

The acute stage begins directly after the assault and may last days or weeks. It is not uncommon for survivors to experience symptoms of shock in addition to other emotional and physical distress, which may include:

2. The Outward Adjustment Phase

During this period, the survivor begins to resume a more normal daily life, while still experiencing substantial emotional turmoil. Survivors tell us they sometimes try to suppress these emotions in an attempt to regain the control they feel they have lost as a result of the sexual assault. However, some survivors may not be able to focus on anything but the assault, and are often plagued by flashbacks. It is common to make major life changes such as changing jobs or moving in an attempt to escape the incident. Some survivors may withdraw from many activities or personal relationships; or may attempt to stay so busy that there is no time left to deal with the pain and confusion they are feeling. Often times this is disruptive to the survivor's life; work, school, home life, or the ability to simply perform daily tasks can become difficult. These consequences may last weeks, months or years. Survivors tell us they also experience additional effects of the sexual assault, such as:

3. The Integration Phase

During this stage the survivor begins to integrate the assault into her life. It is no longer the central focus or profound disruption that it was previously. Survivors tell us that the incorporation of effective and healthy coping strategies into their lives is an important part of this phase. A good support system of friends, family, advocates and/or mental health professionals helps the survivor to deal with the impact of the sexual assault. It is not uncommon to still suffer from flashbacks, but with good support systems it is possible to effectively work through these incidents without it taking over a survivor's life again.

Remember each survivor's healing process is unique. Survivors tell us they sometimes experience more than one stage at a time, or do not follow the sequence of phases outlined above. Healing is an individual and life long process. While it may not be possible to forget what happened, the pain will begin to subside with time.

Beginning to Heal

Survivors tell us It's common to feel like you're going crazy after an assault, but you're not crazy. It's OK to feel confused and overwhelmed by what has happened, remember you just suffered a major trauma. This is a normal part of the healing process, and it will pass with time.

Build a support network. You can never have too much support. When you're ready to talk, contact an advocate, counselor, supportive family member or trusted friend. Some survivors benefit from joining a support group as a part of their healing process. Contact CARDV for more information on times and locations.

Use healthy coping. Going for a walk, talking to an advocate, or spending time with safe people can help to lessen some of the stress.

Simplify your life. Consider dropping any activities that add to your workload or cause additional stress in your life. Spending more time with supportive people, and minimizing your contact with people or situations that may be hurtful is important. You are healing emotionally from a major trauma; this same advice is often given to people recovering from a physical trauma or surgery.

Reach out for help. It's normal to need extra support in the middle of a crisis. If you are feeling suicidal or wanting to self-harm, it is OK to talk about it. You deserve to live, and be healthy. Call the CARDV Hotline 541-754-0110 or 1-800-927-0197, Benton County Mental Health at (541) 766-6844 or 1-888-232-7192 or Linn County Mental Health at 1-800-304-7468.

Be patient. Healing takes time, so be gentle with yourself. It's easy to get frustrated with the healing process; you may feel like you're on an emotional roller coaster for a while. Dealing with a crisis is exhausting, and you will feel its effects for a while.

Adapted from resources at Oregon State University Sexual Assault Support Services
and The Courage to Heal (Davis & Bass).