Coming Forward About Sexual Assault, and What Comes After

Coming Forward About Sexual Assault, and What Comes After

Surviving and moving forward from a sexual assault can be a life long journey.
When the assault happened, the survivor’s life would immediately change. The survivors
may be affected mentally, emotionally and physically. It is more likely that emotional and
psychological scars will last more than the physical ones.

This can make it hard for the survivors to come forward, speak up, and reclaim
their story.

Why Survivors have a hard time coming forward

It is common for sexual assault survivors to feel ashamed of what happened. Some would
feel guilty and blame themselves why the incident occurred. Of course, there is also a fear
of being judged by their family, friends or loved ones.
For some, they are afraid that the sexual assault will define them and people will forever tag
them as victims. We, both the survivors and as a society, must remember that there is more
to a person than just their past. Remember, the survivors are never to be blamed for what happened.

How a Survivor reclaim their story

Reclaiming one’s story differs from person to person.
Some prefer to tell a few trusted loved ones while others seek justice for what has been
done. Either way, we must always side with the survivors and assure them that we believe
what they are telling us. It is difficult to come forward and speak up about their sexual assault but with the right
support, things may be easier.

The support available for sexual assault survivors

Aside from the love and support from family, friends and loved ones, there are a number of
support systems that survivors can reach out to should they ever decide to come forward
and tell their story.
There is the National Sexual Assault Hotline:1-800-656-HOPE where that can get anonymous
emotional support. There are also support groups that they can join where they can meet
co-survivors who have full understanding of what they are going through. Of course there is
also counseling from professional psychological workers,
Some will opt to seek justice for what has been done to them.

Seeking justice

Once a survivor comes forward, they would have a choice if they want to prosecute their
perpetrators.
There could also be a number of reasons why survivors would not seek legal ramifications
against their abuser. Only the survivor can decide on this with themselves. Of course, they can
report what happened to the authorities for investigation and later on a proper criminal or civil
lawsuit.
However, it is best if one is planning to go on this route to speak with a sexual assault lawyers.
Sexual assault attorneys will not only listen to the survivor but will also give advice on what
legal steps they can take against their abuser.
At the end of the line, it is important for survivors to remember that they are not alone in this
journey. There will be a lot of support systems like their family and friends as well as
institutions that will welcome and embrace them with open arms once they come forward.
What happened is their story to tell and theirs alone and they have all the
power over it.

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