What can I do if I have been assaulted?
Don't blame yourself. Even if you would have done something differently you did not choose to be assaulted.
Tell someone. Healing is easier when you have emotional support. Loved ones may feel frightened to hear your story and may not be as supportive at you need. Call Saving Grace or join a support group for survivors. Consider reporting to law enforcement.
Get medical attention. You may be injured, pregnant, or have undetected sexually transmitted diseases. Exams are available at no cost. Victims of sexual assault can ask for evidence to be collected during a hospital exam even if they don't yet know if they want to report to the police. The evidence can be held for 6 months to give you time to make that decision.
Make a safety plan. Do you need to leave, change routines, or get away from someone's reach? Ask your friends, family, police, or Saving Grace for help making a safety plan.
Learn more. Survivors initially believe that their experience was unique. Knowing that others have survived can be a source of strength for you. Contact Saving Grace to talk about options and support.
Is it rape when it's someone you know or have a relationship with?
When someone is assaulted by a person they know or are in a relationship with, the victim—and others—may be confused about whether the attack was really a rape.
Oregon law, however, is clear on the subject of marital rape. Oregon has been a leader among the states in asserting that the marriage contract does not erase a person's right to say no to their spouse. A person in this state who is raped by their spouse has the same rights as any other victim of rape, and can receive the same protection under the Family Abuse Prevention Act as someone who is beaten by their spouse.
Similarly, what some call "date rape" is in fact simply the crime of rape. We believe that no occasion that ends in rape can properly be called a date. Perpetrators who sexually assault their dates often rationalize: "It was a date and they knew what to expect" or " They shouldn't have drunk so much if they didn't want to do it" or "They didn't fight or scream."
People who have been raped by their partners or dates experience many of the same fears and feelings as the victim of any sexual assault. They suffer from guilt ("Was it something I said? or did?"), from fear ("What if it happens again?"), and from loss of trust ("How could they do this to me?").
How do victims feel after an assault?
Shock and disbelief. Victims may wonder if they have really been raped when the perpetrator was not a stranger, if it was their partner, if no weapons were used, if they voluntarily drink or used drugs, or if they didn't resist in order to avoid physical violence. They may be numb and unable to feel.
Loss of trust. Victims may feel cautious about trusting others. They may even lose trust in their ability to judge others or situations.
Shame and embarrassment. Victims may not want anyone to know what happened.
Powerlessness and depression. When a victim's body is assaulted, her or his sense of personal power and control is assaulted. Victims may feel unable to control any of life's circumstances.
Fear and anxiety. Following an assault, victims are often afraid of everyday activities: sleeping, socializing, or leaving children in daycare.
Does everyone face the same issues?
There are some unique issues facing some survivors of sexual assault. Our informational packet can help to identify and face some of those issues. Our Surviving Sexual Assault Packet has more information on the following areas:
Unique issues facing male survivors
Unique issues facing people with disabilities
Unique issues for elderly survivors
Unique issues for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender survivors
Rape Trauma Syndrome
How can I help a friend or family member?
Listen and believe when a victim tells you they are afraid of someone and find out what you can do. Offenders prey on the most vulnerable: the young, the old, the disabled and the poor.
It is never her or his fault. Oftentimes asking questions such as "what were you doing there?" or "had you been drinking?" can feel as though you are blaming the victim for the assault. No matter what the victim had been doing, it is never her or his fault.
Ask what you can do to help. Find out what would be helpful to her or him at this time. If the assault happened recently, they may need someone to go to the hospital or the police with them. If it happened in the past, they may need help finding support services.
Saving Grace works to engage the community in sexual assault and domestic violence prevention efforts underway in Central Oregon. We all, men and women alike, have a responsibility to prevent domestic and sexual violence in our communities. When bystanders are reluctant to get involved in "other people's business," the message is that violence is acceptable.
Support victims and let abusers know their behavior is not okay.
Insist that offenders be prosecuted.
Tell policymakers to devote funding and resources to prevent domestic violence.
Donate money and time to your local domestic violence agency.
Talk to your kids about being respectful in relationships.
Please contact Saving Grace to find out how you can help.
Unique roles for men
Most men are good men; however some men use violence against their partners. Stopping men's violence is a men's issue, even if women are most often affected.
Join forces with other men to speak out and put an end to the silence that condones domestic abuse and sexual assault.
If someone you know is abusing a partner—or is abusive in general—don't look the other way.
Be a mentor and a role model. Teach young boys about how to be men in ways that do not involve degrading or abusing others. Teach boys early and remind them often that there is no place for violence in a relationship.
If you suspect that someone close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask what you can do to help.
Watch a video or read an essay by Jackson Katz, a former college football player turned anti-violence educator who has lectured about this topic to thousands.