How to support assault victims

Imagine for a moment you have just gone through an extremely traumatizing experience, and when you go to someone you trust to talk about it you are told “You were asking for it” or they come at you with “What were you wearing?” 

This is a situation that happens way too often. 

Both of these comments, among a variety of others, diminish the idea of violation that too many people experience in their life.

Instead of brushing away these comments, they should be brought to attention and listened to right away.

At Minnesota State University, Mankato, sexual assault is nothing unheard of.

While this type of incident occurs on campus, students are not alone. There are various organizations and resources on campus that provide support to those who need it. 

Programs such as the Counseling Center, the Violence Awareness & Response Program, and the Office of Equal Opportunity & Title IX offer various resources for those who are survivors of sexual assault. 

Not only do they provide resources for survivors, but they have support systems for family and friends of survivors to help them navigate a functional support system for the one they love.

These on-campus resources are essential for students to utilize when they need it, but it doesn’t end there. CADA in Mankato is a non-profit organization that helps survivors of abuse and violence.

While these places provide the support survivors are looking for, getting that support isn’t as easy as it may seem.

Not only is it essential to have those resources on and off-campus for survivors, but we also need to believe them and hear their stories as everyone’s situation is unique.

There are many reasons why it’s difficult to speak up about domestic violence or sexual assault, and one of the main reasons is that they may feel alone and that their voices won’t be heard. 

In order to normalize speaking up about this type of experience, we need to not second guess someone when they come forward about this issue.

It’s already difficult enough to come forward about an incident that is this sensitive and not believing someone can cause more harm to them. 

Listening to victims and not victim-blaming is essential when talking to a survivor. 

Having a friend or family member open up to you is bigger than you might think so being judgment-free can mean a lot to the person opening up. 

Overall, if someone has the courage to open up to you and share something so personal, you should listen with compassion. 

Although it can be a difficult topic to discuss, you may find yourself not knowing what to say. In that case, referring them to counseling or other resources can be just as helpful.  

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