Men Supporting Sexual Assault Survivors
Male friends, brothers and fathers have a difficult time grappling with the news that a loved one has experienced sexual assault. It can be even more difficult to process all of the emotions that arise after the assault of a loved one. Many men feel an intense amount of anger. It may be directed at the perpetrator. It may even be expressed as blame toward the survivor. Responding in anger can re-victimize the survivor and cause them to shut down. The emotion of anger is normal but must be channeled in such a way that empowers and supports loved ones. There are three significant ways that men can be supportive:
- Be patient. Healing and recovery takes time. It is important to allow for that process to occur.
- Allow the survivor to make decisions both big and small. Empowering a survivor to make decisions is an important component of recovery. When a person is sexually assaulted, power and control are taken away from them. Allowing a survivor to make decisions with which they are comfortable helps them to regain that sense of control.
- Take their lead. Allow the survivor to disclose details of the assault when they feel comfortable doing so. Allow them to define their time frame for re-visiting intimacy in their life.
Men can play a pivotal role in a survivor’s healing as supporters and allies. Spend energy on patience, helping, supporting and listening to your loved one. Acknowledge the impact that the assault has on you as a supporter and seek help when needed. It is likely that men will encounter someone in their life who has experienced trauma. For questions or consultation on how you can be supportive, contact Student Victim Assistance.