What To Do If You Need To Call 999 But It’s Not Safe To Speak

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999. It is the first phone number that many of us learn. It is ingrained in all of us – a direct line to the police, ambulance and fire services should we find ourselves in danger.

Many people assume that if you call 999, then it is guaranteed that help will be on its way – but this is not the case for silent calls. The emergency services do not always respond to silent calls, because there are too many.

Silent calls happen for two main reasons – accidental diallings, or if the caller is unable to speak.

So what should you do if you need the emergency services to attend but, for whatever reason, you cannot talk on the phone?

The answer is known as the Silent Solution.

The Silent Solution should be used in situations where it is unsafe to speak or if the caller is unable to speak. For example, it should be used if the caller is hiding from an attacker and speaking might reveal their hiding place, or if the caller has some kind of medical or mental condition that means that they cannot speak.

How To Use The Silent Solution

Dial 999.

An operator will ask what service you require.

If you are silent, they will ask you to cough or make some other audible noise.

If you remain silent, you will be transferred to an automatic operating system.

A recording will ask you to dial 55 if you require the emergency services, or your call will be terminated.

Dial 55.

This alerts the emergency services that you need help but that you are unable to speak.

The police will be dispatched.

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Poster: Consent Is Sexy

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Poster 1
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Poster 2

At universities across the country, new students are descending on their new homes for Freshers’ Week.

It’s a time to make friends, and for many, to drink alcohol and party hard.

For many students, their time at university will also be the time they have their first sexual experiences.

Secondary school sex education will have have taught them all about safe sex (“use a condom!”) but has it prepared students for that other all-important, safety-related, C-word: consent?

The topic of consent is often lacking from sex education classes, meaning that it may not be on the forefront of some young people’s minds as they engage in sexual activity for the first time.

But it’s hugely important.

That’s why we’ve put together these posters, to help young people learn that consent is just as important as condom-use when it comes to having safe sex.

You can view them here (Consent Is Sexy) and here (Be Consent Aware), to print and put up around your campus and in your halls of residence.

Or you can share them on Facebook here (Consent Is Sexy), and here (Be Consent Aware) if printing and sticking is not your idea of fun during Freshers’ Week – which is totally understandable!

Have fun, and remember: be consent aware this Freshers’ Week!

Poster text

Title: Consent is sexy / Be consent aware

Man: “Are you ready for this?”

Woman: “Yes. Are you?”

Man: “Yes”.

  • Always ask for consent before engaging in sexual activity.
  • Don’t be afraid to say “no” if you don’t want to do something.
  • Respect your partner if they ask you to stop.
  • Remember it’s OK to change your mind, and that it’s OK for your partner to change their mind, even once you’ve started engaging in sexual activity.
  • Have fun and remember, consent is sexy!

Image credit: “The Kiss” by Robert Werk

Posters created by Victims2Survivors UK

Dear Yahoo: Please Let Revenge Porn Victims Make Link Deletion Requests

Yahoo is the only major search engine that doesn’t allow victims to report revenge porn.

We want to change that.

Last week, we tweeted Yahoo asking them let victims of revenge porn make link deletion requests.

What is revenge porn?

Revenge porn is the practice of posting intimate photos or videos of someone online without their consent.

It is usually done by an ex-partner, usually as “revenge” for the victim breaking up with them.

Pure and simple, it is bullying. It is vicious – designed to humiliate and degrade the victim. It can ruin lives.

These photos and videos were only ever intended to be seen by one person, the recipient. For the recipient to then spread this content online is a massive breach of trust.

What can a victim of revenge porn to do get the images or videos taken down?

If a person has been a victim of revenge porn, they can ask the website hosting the material to take it down.

However, if the website refuses or simply doesn’t respond, there is another way to reduce the accessibility of the images: asking search engines to remove links to the material from their search results.

This doesn’t get delete the content from the internet, but it does get rid of the links through which the majority of people will find the content. In short, it makes the content invisible.

Once a search engine has removed links to the material, a person will only be able to access it if they know the exact URL of the webpage the material is on.

Earlier this year, Google released a form allowing victims to report links containing revenge porn. Once the victim had filled out the form, Google would receive it and remove these links from their search results.

Shortly afterwards, Microsoft released their own form, also allowing victims to report links containing revenge porn. Once the victim had filled out the form, Microsoft would receive it and remove the links from Bing, OneDrive and Xbox Live.

However, Yahoo does not currently have a method of allowing victims to report links containing revenge porn.

Why isn’t Yahoo helping victims of revenge porn?

Yahoo is the only major search engine that doesn’t allow victims to report revenge porn.

It’s not clear why they haven’t followed Google and Microsoft in creating a form for victims to report links to revenge porn, but we can only assume it currently isn’t a priority for the company. Maybe they will introduce a form or other method of reporting links at some point in the future, but for now they have not given any indication it will happen any time soon.

But for victims, time is of the essence. The longer intimate photos and videos are available online, the more people will see and share them, and the greater psychological damage the victim will suffer.

It is imperative for victims that they are able to report links quickly and easily.

That is why we have launched this campaign to ask Yahoo to introduce a method of reporting for revenge porn victims, like Google and Bing have done. To empower victims and provide them with an easy way to report images and videos that have been put online without their consent.

We need your help

Victims2Survivors UK can only make so much noise. In order to get Yahoo’s attention, we need you to join us in our campaign.

We need you to re-tweet our plea to Yahoo.

We need you to inform your contacts in the media/news industry, if you have any, about this campaign.

If you know someone who actually works for Yahoo, we need you let them know that victims need a way to tell them about links to revenge porn.

Please help us to empower victims and let them take back their dignity.

Video: Explaining Consent – It’s As Simple As Making A Cup Of Tea

Blue Seat Studios have created a nifty short video explaining consent.

The twist? It’s done by comparing sex to making a cup of tea.

It sounds odd, but it works!

This video contains no swear words and is suitable to be watched by children for sex and consent education purposes.

Transcript

If you’re still struggling with consent, just imagine that instead of initiating sex, you’re making them a cup of tea.

You say, “Hey, would you like a cup of tea?” And they go, “Oh my God, I would love a cup of tea, thank you!” Then you know they want a cup of tea.

If you say, “Hey, would you like a cup of tea?” And they’re like, “Hmm, I’m not really sure…” Then you could make them a cup of tea, or not, but be aware they might not drink it. And if they don’t drink it, then (and this is the important part) don’t make them drink it. Just because you made it, doesn’t mean that you are entitled to watch them drink it.

And if they say, “No, thank you,” then don’t make them tea. At all. Just don’t make them tea. Don’t make them drink tea. Don’t get annoyed at them for not wanting tea. They just don’t want tea, OK?

They might say, “Yes, please, that’s kind of you.” And then when the tea arrives, they actually don’t want the tea at all. Sure, that’s kind of annoying as you’ve gone to all the effort of making the tea, but they remain under no obligation to drink the tea. They did want tea, now they don’t. Some people change their mind in the time it takes to boil the kettle, brew the tea and add the milk, and it’s OK for people to change their mind. And you are still not entitled to watch them drink it.

And if they’re unconscious, don’t make them tea. Unconscious people don’t want tea. And they can’t answer the question: “Do you want tea?” because they’re unconscious.

OK, so maybe they were conscious when you asked them if they wanted tea, and they said, “Yes!”, but in the time it took you to boil the kettle, brew the tea and add the milk, they’re now unconscious. You should just put the tea down, make sure the unconscious person is safe, and this is the important part again don’t make them drink the tea. They said “yes” then, sure, but unconscious people don’t want tea.

If someone said “yes” to tea, started drinking it, and then passed out before they’d finished it, don’t keep on pouring it down their throat. Take the tea away, make sure they’re safe, because unconscious people don’t want tea, trust me on this.

If someone said “yes” to tea around your house last Saturday, that doesn’t mean they want you to make them tea all the time. They don’t want you to come around to their place unexpectedly and make them tea and force them to drink it saying, “But you wanted tea last week!” Or to wake up to find you pouring tea down their throat saying, “But you wanted tea last night!”

If you can understand how completely ludicrous it is to force people to have tea when they don’t want tea, and you’re able to understand when people don’t want tea, then how hard is it to understand it when it comes to sex?

Whether it’s tea or sex, consent is everything.

12 Brave Rape Victims Reveal Their Coping Strategies

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We recently asked on our Facebook page for survivors of rape and sexual assault to share their coping strategies.

We had 12 amazing responses.

Being the victim of a sex crime is something that no one should ever have to go through. Unfortunately, many do.

If you’re struggling to cope, remember that support is available. And remember that these 12 people once felt exactly like you – and managed to survive. They are super-heroes. And you can be too.

Here are their coping strategies.

Carol: Running and trying new experiences

“I started running. I dove headfirst into new experiences and meeting new people. I spent time carefully tailoring myself, my appearance, my outward image. I delved deep within myself and pursued the things that allowed me to be and embrace and celebrate who I wanted to be, who I knew I still was – despite my fears that my identity had been eroded by trauma. I kept myself so busy that I didn’t have time to fixate on the damage done. And I grew. Each new experience, each celebration of self helped me pick up more and more pieces, until I had gathered more substance than there had been initially and I was overflowing with life. All those joyous pieces gathered to me help me when the darkness looms.”

Suze: Walking and meditation

“After trying to deny what had happened to me and using alcohol to numb me, I realised I would have to tackle the fact that I was raped head-on. I walked out my anger and spent as much time as I could in nature. I meditated and came to realise that being raped was something that happened to me. It was not a mark on my soul. It was not an indelible marker on my head. It was not who I am. Understanding this allowed me to release myself from the burden of shame and guilt that I had been carrying as I felt inexplicably responsible. I am still healing, but I am healing.”

Fiona: Talking and therapy

“I contacted my local Rape Crisis centre. Just having someone to talk to, who understands what you’re going through, without being judged, let it all out to start the healing process. I also asked my doctor to refer me to a psychologist. This can take a few months depending on where you live. You have to be ready to do this or it won’t help. Psychological therapies offer several coping strategies. Your psychologist will help you explore ways to find what suits you best. Be honest with yourself and your psychologist. If you ever get the opportunity to attend psychodrama, grab it with both hands! You also need a support network to help get you through each day at a time. Opening up to psychology sessions makes it all so raw. Be prepared for flash backs, panic attacks etc. It’s not easy but bear with it because you are worth it. I wouldn’t be here today without the love and support from my family and both my counsellors. Not forgetting all the hard work I put into putting one foot in front of the other. Empower yourself to start the journey to become a survivor.”

Woodstock: Learning self-awareness

“I learned to listen to my body. This was the best coping mechanism I have discovered. I developed PTSD after my experience, and when I started listening to my body… well, it hasn’t been an easy road to recover, of course, but it has been a lot easier than if I had fought against what was inside of me. Instead, I now consistently check in with my body – “What am I feeling?” and “What do I need/want here?” I gave it a voice when it was crying out to be heard. I also let the people in my life know about what was going on, and made no apologies for however I would work to recover. The ones who love you are the ones who stand by you through it all. Keep them, let go of the rest. You need to support yourself and also have a positive support team.”

Francesca: Understanding my feelings, seeing beauty in everything, living a simple life

“I learned to communicate about what I was feeling. I learned to put names and definitions to my emotions. I learned to read beneath the reaction (e.g. Anger is a secondary emotion. Why am I angry? What else am I feeling? Am I afraid? Hurt? ) and react accordingly. And I learned to see peace and beauty in everything – from the light shining through the trees to two people interacting – and focus on how beautiful life can be. Most importantly, I acknowledged that it was more important for me to live a simple lifestyle that makes me happy, mostly engaging only with people that I trust and respect, and taking my time to finish school and find a part for myself. I am 22 now, 11 years have passed on this journey. At the time, I had no way to cope or comprehend. Now, I can wake up and say that I like my life and want to live it.”

Vicky: Having a goal and avoiding bitterness

“I tried a lot of different things, some adaptive, some hurtful to myself. But what I found was that no matter what, you need a goal to keep your recovery and rebuilding what was taken from you on track. Mine was to never become hard. I had been taken advantage of and used, and I could have used that to become bitter and hateful and distrusting, but that isn’t a coping strategy that is good for you deep down. I always kept in mind “Being both soft and strong is a skill very few have mastered”, and that I wanted to be one of those people. Stay strong, but stay soft. What happened was nothing to do with you, and as long as you remember that you are more, and you can do more, than what happened in your past, then you’ll get there in the end.”

Christi: Raising awareness of sexual/domestic violence

“I did everything and anything I could to fight back, and still do to this day. Any chance I am given, I talk about what happened to me so that other people know the signs of an abuser, and how to stop domestic violence that is happening in front of their eyes.”

Anonymous: Running and keeping busy

“I run a lot, because I find that it allows me a lot of blank head space. I also have found that work is a powerful tool. I find that I simply don’t have time to get upset because I always have something else to do.”

Lily: Writing

“I started writing an anonymous blog about how I was feeling. It hurt sometimes, but ultimately it helped a huge amount to write everything down and get it out of my system. It also helped me to make sense of my thoughts. I am healed now, and I know I couldn’t have done it without the therapeutic act of pouring out my soul onto the page.”

Michaela: Exercise

“I took up the gym. Exercise helps me manage my depression, my insomnia and my intense emotions. It helps me feel strong and helps me realise even though my back is damaged due to abuse I’m still fit, strong and able. I have lost weight which has improved my self-esteem. I slowly started to trust people and having a few understanding friends has broken the isolation. I also find walking my dogs a pleasure and they offer me the unconditional love I lost out on as a child. Pets, I find, are very healing.”

Rebecca: Talking and group therapy

“A regular therapist and going to groups is really important for me. When we share experiences it feels like I’m not facing everything alone, that it isn’t just me.”

Jonathan: Painting

“Painting allowed me to express myself and pour out my grief, anger, confusion and hurt. With each brush-stroke, I feel calmer. Every time I mark that canvas, I am less broken inside – like I am becoming whole, like I am evolving from a victim to a survivor.”

Do you have your own coping strategies you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below.

Inspirational Rape Survivors Give Advice To Other Victims

“Rape and sexual assault can be truly devastating and life-changing events.

But, many victims do find ways to heal from the trauma and become survivors.

If you’re a survivor, we want you to help us help victims by telling us how you made the transition from victim to survivor. It may be useful to think about it this way: What advice would you give to your younger self, if you could back in time? What do you wish had been said to you?”

Towards the end of January, we posted the above message on our Facebook page, asking survivors of sexual violence what advice they would like to give to other victims.

We had some truly remarkable and inspirational replies.

If you’re a victim of sexual violence, we hope you find their advice useful.

However isolated you may feel, please remember that you are not alone, and that things can get better – the brave rape and sexual assault survivors who answered us are proof of that.

They healed, they went from being victims to being survivors – and you can too.

Tamsyn’s advice:There is no right or wrong way to deal with this. Lots of people never want to talk about it, and lots of people find talking helps. Don’t ever listen to anyone who says you’re handling it wrong, or that your choice to talk or not to talk about it somehow minimises your experience.

Your feelings are valid and can fuel you to do amazing things, but remember to take care of yourself. Try to eat and sleep. It’s easy to overlook these things when dealing with trauma.

Find what works for you. For some people, carrying on as normal is enough. Others might need some sort of outlet, maybe writing or another hobby.

I personally found that I had a lot of problems (especially immediately after my attack) with really bad muscle tension all the time, to the point where I was constantly in pain with cramps, etc, and I couldn’t sleep and had to be prescribed sleeping pills. Try to find a way to help yourself relax. Hot baths are good. Also, I have a friend who has a box full of things that make her feel better. In it, she has pictures of pretty landscapes, fabrics that she likes the feel of, etc. Some people also get a lot from meditation. Find what works for you, and do it as much as you need to. If it feels like nothing is working, try not to get frustrated and blame yourself. It’s okay to be tense and anxious and on-guard. It’s okay to not be able to relax.

Finally, remember that you’re not defined by your trauma. You’re not broken, not unloveable, not damaged goods. You are whole. You are just a human being that a really awful thing happened to, and it sucks, and it might affect you for a really long time. But it’s not going to break you, because you’re not made of glass or crystal. You’re not going to shatter. Eventually you’ll heal and flourish, and you’ll start to feel like yourself again.

In the meantime, don’t give up hope.

Kirstein’s advice: Don’t be afraid to admit that you hurt and ask for help. It doesn’t make you weak, it makes you stronger. And when you have recovered enough to tell your story (NOT before), don’t be ashamed to tell it. You have no idea how many victims you will help, and how many potential rapes you might prevent just by making someone think and understand and learn from what you have been through. You are amazing to have survived. Tell yourself that every day. And remember that at least 1 in 10 of us have experienced it, probably more. So if you DO speak up, you will never, ever be alone. And, if you can accept them, *hugs*.

Emily’s advice: It’s really difficult to come to terms with what’s happened to you, it feels impossible. I felt like I just wanted to go back to the person before, who was innocent and happier. It took me a long time to realise that I couldn’t do that. You are no longer that person, it takes time to grieve that. I know that I am still angry, furious with myself, him and everything else. But it does get easier, it does become the past, it does get better. It takes time and a lot of work you should never have to do. You will discover your worth is more than what happened to you. You are incredible. You can survive this.

Rachel’s advice:Tell someone. However scary it is, that’s nothing compared to how scary it can be to go through something like this alone. Tell someone, because to have someone look you in the eyes and tell you that what happened to you was cruel and that nobody deserves that; that can be worth more than you think.

Mandy’s advice:Believe in yourself and your own strength. You will have good days and bad ones and that is OK, but the important thing to remember is this: if you give in to the fear, give in to all the voices telling you that it was your fault, that you didn’t fight hard enough – if you give in to those voices, then the rapist wins… The biggest way to make him fail, to let him know that he did not accomplish what he set out to do, is to not let him win. If you don’t break, if this doesn’t break you, then you come out of the other side a better, stronger person than before and he is left an impotent loser.

Charlotte’s advice:Don’t go over and over it, because eventually you may doubt it was rape. The doubt wasn’t put there by you. Think about what you would say if it was somebody else, and they told you they didn’t give consent.

Chrissy’s advice:Don’t blame yourself. Don’t let guilt eat away at you. You don’t deserve to punish yourself. Don’t replace the emotional pain for physical pain. Be kind to yourself. Remember that not everyone is out to hurt you. It’s a grieving process, and with time and support, you can move forward.”

Kate’s advice:Never blame yourself. No matter what people say when they find out what happened, remember that without consent what happened to you was rape/sexual assault.

Michaela’s advice:Whether you were a man or woman, boy or girl, when you were raped it was never your fault. The only person who is responsible for the rape is the rapist and this rapist can be a man or a woman. So if you were raped by a woman and you are left confused, forget the legal definition of rape* which is too restrictive and know that forced sex is rape and is wrong. You deserve to name your experience. You will recover. You will move on. Things will get easier and you are strong, brave and courageous when you speak out and receive support, and just as strong, brave and courageous if you don’t speak out. You don’t need to be alone as there are people out there who will understand you and walk the path of recovery with you.

*Note: Rape is legally defined as the non-consensual insertion of the defendant’s penis into the victim’s vagina, anus or mouth. Therefore, only men can commit the legal crime of rape. For more information on the law on rape, click here.

Stephanie’s advice: “Know that your rape doesn’t define who you are as a person. You aren’t less whole, you don’t have anything missing. It’s a trauma that you experienced; it doesn’t have to become your identity.”

Tracy’s advice:Always remember you are a SURVIVOR. You are no longer a victim. Replace the word “victim” with “survivor”. It was not your fault. The strongest thing you did was survive. Always a survivor.”

For information about the help and support available to victims of rape and sexual assault, please visit our Resources For Victims page.

Image credit: Flickr / jenosaur

The Emotional Impact of Sexual Assault and Rape

When a victim is raped or sexually assaulted, there is one particularly personal topic that their friends and family will want to understand, and that the victim may well be confused about themselves: their emotional and psychological reactions.

Rape and sexual assault can trigger a rollercoaster of emotions.

At the time of the violation itself, victims may feel immense fear, horror and shock. They may not be able to believe what is happening to them – especially if the perpetrator is someone they trusted, as is usually the case. If they had trusted the person, they are likely to feel utterly betrayed. Whether they knew the perpetrator or not, they are likely to feel devastated – or conversely they may feel totally numb.

These are all common initial reactions.

But it is important for victims’ loved ones to understand that even once the assault is over and the immediate physical danger passed, the victim is likely to continue suffering. They will still need your support, and the first step to giving that support is to try to understand what the victim may be feeling – this article will hopefully help with that.

If you’ve been raped or sexually assaulted, please know that there is no right or wrong way to feel – everyone’s experiences and reactions are unique. Whether you feel completely overwhelmed with emotion or totally numb, whether you can relate to the emotions I’m going to describe or not – everything you feel, whatever that may be, is totally justified and completely normal. Sexual violence is a terrible thing, and everyone reacts in their own way. Please believe that although what you feel is unique to you, you are not alone.

Fear

Fear is often one of the dominant emotions following an ordeal or rape or sexual assault. At the time of the event itself victims often feel extremely frightened by what is happening, and may fear “how far” the perpetrator will go. Afterwards, when they think back to the assault and remember it, they are likely to feel the same sense of fear – as if they are reliving it.

This leads onto my next point – victims’ fear of the court process. If a victim bravely decides to report the crime to the police, they will do so in the knowledge that they are likely to be ruthlessly cross-examined by the defence and forced to relive the assault all over again. It is common knowledge that defence barristers are merciless and try every trick in the book to try to break victims, to discredit them, to try to trick juries into thinking that the victim is lying – it’s nothing personal; it’s their job. There has been a recent high-profile case of a sexual abuse victim being so horrifically cross-examined that they committed suicide. Victims may very validly fear that the trial itself will be as traumatic, if not more so, than the initial attack.

Another massive fear that victims have is of not being believed, whether that’s by the police, the jury, or their friends – particularly if they share any friends with their abuser. The thought of not only being sexually assaulted, but of also losing friends if they choose to believe the perpetrator over them, is absolutely devastating and mortifying for victims.

Another, much darker fear that victims may have is a fear that the perpetrator will do it again – whether to them or someone else.

A final fear that any victim reporting the crime to the police will have is that the perpetrator will somehow get away with it – that they will be found not guilty or given a mere slap on the wrist for their actions. Such a miscarriage of justice is something that many victims cannot even bear to think about.

Shock

Victims will typically be completely shocked and horrified by what has happened to them. Most perpetrators of sexual violence are known to and trusted by the victim – they are people such as partners, friends and family members. They are “nice” people who we do not expect to do such a terrible thing.

Anger

Anger is an emotion that victims often encounter after they have recovered from the initial fear and shock of what happened to them. It is normal for victims to feel incredibly angry about what their abuser did to them. Victims of sexual violence were, by definition, not consenting – the perpetrator had no right to touch them so intimately, so completely against their will. It is only natural that victims are often furious with their abuser for disregarding their lack of consent; for taking away their dignity and their fundamental right to control what happens to their body.

Perpetrators often try to justify why they committed the rape or sexual assault. This is infuriating – there is no justification for rape or sexual assault. Nothing ever makes it OK. Perpetrators of single instances of sexual violence may simply brush it off as a one-off mistake that shouldn’t count against them. Such arrogance and self-delusion with regards to their own virtuousness will obviously make victims angrier still.

Furthermore, victims may feel angry with themselves if they have not yet reported the incident to the police. They may feel that they are letting their abuser “get away with it” – it is often when this anger grows stronger than their fear that they will finally manage to report the incident.

And finally, for those victims who have not felt able to report the crime to the police, or whose abusers have been found “not guilty” by a jury, there is of course the anger that their abuser gets to live a normal, free life, while in contrast the victim must live every day with the emotional and psychological consequences of what happened to them.

Guilt

This ties in with the haunting fear that the perpetrator may go on to abuse someone else. If this were to happen, the victim may feel intense guilt for not reporting their abuser to the police and “preventing” the later attack. Such guilt is, however, misplaced – the perpetrator alone is responsible for their actions.

Victims may also feel guilty if they have not told certain people what they are going through. Every time they pretend that everything is OK, they may feel like they are lying by omission.

Sadness

Usually, the abuser is someone close to the victim. They may be a spouse, partner, friend, or family member. The victim may have had a lot of good memories with the perpetrator, but these will now be forever tarnished and overshadowed by what the perpetrator did to the victim. It can be a very sad experience to lose someone who was once so close, once such a good friend. In such cases, although the victim may want to pursue justice through the courts, this will likely bring them closure and relief only, not happiness.

Humiliation and embarrassment

Rape and sexual assault are sexual crimes, so by their very nature they are humiliating and embarrassing to discuss with others. It may seem petty to worry about this, but many victims will feel uncomfortable about having to describe the intimate details of what happened to them to the police and in the courtroom.

Shame

Unfortunately there is a huge shame aspect to being a victim of sexual assault or rape. Even though it is never the victim’s fault, there is still this cloud of shame that hangs collectively over their heads – like embarrassment mixed with self-loathing. It is a result of rape culture, and it is a dreadful feeling to have to feel on top of everything else. Victims must remind themselves that they have nothing to be ashamed of. However, although it can be easy to believe this on a cognitive level, on an emotional level it can still occasionally creep in, insidious.

If you’ve been the victim of sexual assault or rape and you feel ashamed, please know that none of this is your fault – you are absolutely not to blame. Your attacker alone is responsible for their actions.

Cowardice

Victims may sometimes feel like they are a coward if they have not yet having had the confidence to report the crime to the police. It’s an awful feeling and is deeply mixed in with the shame mentioned above. Victims may hate themselves sometimes for this feeling of perceived weakness. It is important to remember that reporting a crime and taking it through the criminal justice system is a legitimately frightening prospect. If you’re a victim who has not yet plucked up the courage to report the incident to the police, you are not weak.

Worthlessness

If the victim clearly communicated their lack of consent, for example if they verbally said “no” multiple times, or turned away, or tried to escape, but the perpetrator continued regardless, this can lead to feelings of severe worthlessness in the victim.

Why? Because if the victim made it so abundantly clear that they weren’t consenting, then the perpetrator must have truly thought nothing of the victim to completely ignore them.

Bitterness

It is natural to feel incredibly bitter about this whole situation. The feeling of “Why did it have to happen to me?” is a powerful one. It is never the victim’s fault. No one ever deserves it. It is not fair.

Panic

Victims can sometimes be gripped with a strong sense of panic when they remember what happened to them, or if certain memories are triggered. Triggers can include someone unexpectedly mentioning the abuser’s name or saying something that reminds the victim of them.

Nightmares

Nightmares featuring the assault itself, or the abuser, or friends’ disbelieving reactions, or the court process, are all common. Persistent nightmares may be a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or another disorder. If you’re worried, you should see your GP.