April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and this year the theme is all about building safe online spaces.
While the intention of this month is to spread awareness, raise visibility, and provide resources — sometimes this month long campaign meant to center survivors can in fact be painful for survivors. Without social media or other online spaces to “escape” the reminders of sexual assault, this can be an even more challenging time for survivors.
With that in mind, DASH wanted to share a few tips on how to support survivors during #SAAM (and beyond).
- Recognize how the pandemic has impacted survivors: for those in immediate crisis, many organizations are stretched beyond capacity and limited resources are available. In addition, the sense of isolation that has been perpetuated by the pandemic can be even more challenging for someone dealing with trauma.
- Hold space: take the time to have a conversation with someone who may be recovering and healing from an assault, but also ensure that you’re respecting their boundaries if they’re not ready to talk.
- Offer respite: sometimes talking about it is too much for a survivor and what they need is a break — a break from social media, from work, or from thinking about their experience. If it seems like they’re not wanting to talk, offer to do an activity with them that they enjoy (safely) be it a socially distanced walk, workout, or other activity.
- Honor the healing: it is important to acknowledge the pain and reality of assault, but it is equally important to recognize the hope in the healing. Talk with the survivor about the future and what they would like that to look like so that you can work together to achieve it.
This post is an adaptation of this article. Please read further if you are interested in learning more about how to support loved ones who have experienced sexual assault.
If you’d like to get involved in the #SAAM campaign or are looking for additional resources, please visit nsvrc.org/saam.