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ABOUT SEXUAL ASSAULT

What is sexual assault?

The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include:

  • Attempted rape

  • Fondling or unwanted sexual touching

  • Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body

  • Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape

Types Of Sexual Violence

The term “sexual violence” is an all-encompassing, non-legal term that refers to crimes like sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse. Many of these crimes are described below.  There are often other crimes and forms of violence that arise jointly with crimes like sexual assault, and these are described as well.

Sexual assault can take many different forms, but one thing remains the same: it’s never the victim’s fault.

What is rape?

Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without consent,rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim”

What is force?

Force doesn’t always refer to physical pressure. Perpetrators may use emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex. Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim or their family or other intimidation tactics.


PERPETRATORS

  • Who are the perpetrators?

    The majority of perpetrators are someone known to the victim. Approximately 7 out of 10  are committed by someone known to the victim, such as in the case of  intimate sexual partner violence  or acquaintance rape.

    The term “date rape” is sometimes used to refer to acquaintance rape. Perpetrators of acquaintance rape might be a date, but they could also be a classmate, a neighbor, a friend’s significant other, or any number of different roles. It’s important to remember that dating, instances of past intimacy, or other acts like kissing do not give someone consent for increased or continued sexual contact.

    In other instances the victim may not know the perpetrator at all. This type of sexual violence is sometimes referred to as stranger rape. Stranger rape can occur in several different ways:

    • Blitz sexual assault: when a perpetrator quickly and brutally assaults the victim with no prior contact, usually at night in a public place

    • Contact sexual assault: when a perpetrator contacts the victim and tries to gain their trust by flirting, luring the victim to their car, or otherwise trying to coerce the victim into a situation where the sexual assault will occur

    • Home invasion sexual assault: when a stranger breaks into the victim’s home to commit the assault

    Survivors of both stranger rape and acquaintance rape often blame themselves for behaving in a way that encouraged the perpetrator. It’s important to remember that the victim is a never to blame for the actions of a perpetrator.

 

Perpetrators

The data showed that majority of the cases were perpetrated by the victims’ own family members with a few being done by close pals.

It points out clearly that out of the over 1,862 reported cases of rape, only six males were raped, showing an insignificant figure as against that of women.

The National Coordinating Director of DOVVSU, Chief Superintendent Rev. Mrs Laurencia Wilhemina Akorli, disclosed this to The Mirror in an interview in Accra.

In all, 30,408 assault cases were reported nationally between 2011 to 2016, with men being the least victims.


Facts and Figures

Approximately six women are likely to be raped every week, six-year statistics from the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service have revealed. 

On the contrary, only one man is likely to be raped every year within the same period.

 

The data, which cover 2011 to 2016, also show that more females continued to suffer from rape and assault with only a handful of the victims being males.   The annual breakdown also indicates that one woman was raped each day in 2011 alone.
On the average, nine women were raped within every month in 2012, while 10 women on average were raped every month in 2013. The data  further  indicates that more than six women were raped every week in 2015 alone. However, the 2016  figure dipped slightly with about four women being raped every week.

 

 


REDUCTION

Reduction

Apart from non-maintenance (child neglect), she said rape and sexual assault were some of the common domestic violent cases.
Even though Rev Mrs Akorli indicated that the incidents were reducing gradually due to the level of awareness, the rate of reduction was minimal in several instances.

For instance, the difference between the 2012 and 2013 figures on rape was only a decrease of seven per cent.
Another improvement was seen between 2015 and 2016 when there was a decrease of 25 per cent, an indication that the level of awareness was increasing. However, it is also possible that some of the cases were not reported by the victims during the period under review.

Rev. Mrs Akorli confirmed this to The Mirror, saying “the inconsistencies in the figures could be likened to several factors including fear of stigmatization which reduces the report rate.”

To speak with someone who is trained to help, call our hotlines available 24/7 0247243393 or chat online at thesafespacefoundation.org

Legal Disclaimer
The Safe Space Foundation (TSSF) website provides general information that is intended, but not guaranteed, to be correct and up-to-date. The information is not presented as a source of legal advice. You should not rely, for legal advice, on statements or representations made within the website or by any externally referenced Internet sites. If you need legal advice upon which you intend to rely in the course of your legal affairs, consult a competent, independent attorney. TSSF does not assume any responsibility for actions or non-actions taken by people who have visited this site, and no one shall be entitled to a claim for detrimental reliance on any information provided or expressed.

Child Sexual Abuse

When a perpetrator intentionally harms a minor physically, psychologically, sexually, or by acts of neglect, the crime is known as child abuse. This page focuses specifically on child sexual abuse and the warning signs that this crime may be occurring.

What is child sexual abuse?

Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse that includes sexual activity with a minor. A child cannot consent to any form of sexual activity, period. When a perpetrator engages with a child this way, they are committing a crime that can have lasting effects on the victim for years. Child sexual abuse does not need to include physical contact between a perpetrator and a child. Some forms of child sexual abuse include:

 Exhibitionism, or exposing oneself to a minor

  • Fondling

  • Intercourse

  • Masturbation in the presence of a minor or forcing the minor to masturbate

  • Obscene phone calls, text messages, or digital interaction

  • Producing, owning, or sharing pornographic images or movies of children

  • Sex of any kind with a minor, including vaginal, oral, or anal

  • Sex trafficking

  • Any other sexual conduct that is harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare

What do perpetrators of child sexual abuse look like?

The majority of perpetrators are someone the child or family knows. As many as 93% of victims under the age of 18 know the abuser.. A perpetrator does not have to be an adult to harm a child. They can have any relationship to the child including an older sibling or playmate, family member, a teacher, a coach or instructor, a caretaker, or the parent of another child. “[Child] sexual abuse is the result of abusive behavior that takes advantage of a child’s vulnerability and is in no way related to the sexual orientation of the abusive person.”

Abusers can manipulate victims to stay quiet about the sexual abuse using a number of different tactics. Often an abuser will use their position of power over the victim to coerce or intimidate the child. They might tell the child that the activity is normal or that they enjoyed it. An abuser may make threats if the child refuses to participate or plans to tell another adult. Child sexual abuse is not only a physical violation; it is a violation of trust and/or authority.

 How can I protect my child from sexual abuse?

A big part of protecting your child is about creating a dialogue. Read more to learn about creating this dialogue and keeping your child safe.

 

  • Talk to your child if you suspect sexual abuse

  • Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse

 

What are the warning signs?

Child sexual abuse isn’t always easy to spot. The perpetrator could be someone you’ve known a long time or trust, which may make it even harder to notice. Consider the following warning signs:

Physical signs:

 

  • Bleeding, bruises, or swelling in genital area

  • Bloody, torn, or stained underclothes

  • Difficulty walking or sitting

  • Frequent urinary or yeast infections

  • Pain, itching, or burning in genital area

 

Behavioral signs:

 

  • Changes in hygiene, such as refusing to bathe or bathing excessively

  • Develops phobias

  • Exhibits signs of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Expresses suicidal thoughts, especially in adolescents

  • Has trouble in school, such as absences or drops in grades

  • Inappropriate sexual knowledge or behaviors

  • Nightmares or bed-wetting

  • Overly protective and concerned for siblings, or assumes a caretaker role

  • Returns to regressive behaviors, such as thumb sucking

  • Runs away from home or school

  • Self-harms

  • Shrinks away or seems threatened by physical contact

 

Where can I get help?

 

  • If you want to talk to someone anonymously, call the Hotline at 0247243393, any time 24/7.

  • Learn more about being an adult survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

  • To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the  Hotline at 0247243393 or chat online at thesafespacefoundation.org

 

If You Suspect A Child Is Being Harmed

If you are concerned that a child is a victim of abuse, you may not be sure what to do or how to respond. Child sexual abuse is a crime that often goes undetected. No matter what your role is—parent or other family member, coach, teacher, religious leader, babysitter—you have the power to make a positive difference in this child’s life.

1. Recognize the signs

The signs of abuse aren’t always obvious, and learning the warning signs of child sexual abuse could be life saving. You might notice behavioral or physical changes that could signal a child is being abused. Some of these warning signs include:

Behavioral signs: Shrinking away from or seeming threatened by physical contact, regressive behaviors like thumb sucking, changing hygiene routines such as refusing to bathe or bathing excessively, age-inappropriate sexual behaviors, sleep disturbances, or nightmares

  • Physical signs: Bruising or swelling near the genital area, blood on sheets or undergarments, or broken bones

  • Verbal cues: Using words or phrases that are “too adult” for their age, unexplained silence, or suddenly being less talkative

 


2. TALK TO THE CHILD

f you are concerned about abuse, talk to the child. Keep in mind a few guidelines to create a non-threatening environment where the child may be more likely to open up to you.

 

  • Pick your time and place carefully. Choose a space where the child is comfortable or ask them where they’d like to talk. Avoid talking in front of someone who may be causing the harm.

  • Be aware of your tone. If you start the conversation in a serious tone, you may scare the child, and they may be more likely to give you the answers they think you want to hear—rather than the truth. Try to make the conversation more casual. A non-threatening tone will help put the child at ease and ultimately provide you with more accurate information.

  • Talk to the child directly. Ask questions that use the child’s own vocabulary, but that are a little vague. For example, “Has someone been touching you?” In this context “touching” can mean different things, but it is likely a word the child is familiar with. The child can respond with questions or comments to help you better gauge the situation like, “No one touches me except my mom at bath time,” or “You mean like the way my cousin touches me sometimes?” Understand that sexual abuse can feel good to the child, so asking if someone is “hurting” them may not bring out the information that you are looking for.

Listen and follow up. Allow the child to talk freely. Wait for them to pause, and then follow up on points that made you feel concerned.

  • Avoid judgment and blame. Avoid placing blame by using “I” questions and statements. Rather than beginning your conversation by saying, “You said something that made me worry…” consider starting your conversation with the word “I.” For example: “I am concerned because I heard you say that you are not allowed to sleep in your bed by yourself.”

  • Reassure the child. Make sure that the child knows that they are not in trouble. Let them know you are simply asking questions because you are concerned about them.

  • Be patient. Remember that this conversation may be very frightening for the child. Many perpetrators make threats about what will happen if someone finds out about the abuse. They may tell a child that they will be put into foster care or threaten them or their loved ones with physical violence.

 


3. Report it

Reporting a crime like sexual abuse may not be easy, and it can be emotionally draining. Keep in mind that reporting abuse gives you the chance to protect someone who can’t protect themselves. Depending on where you live and your role in the child’s life, you may be legally obligated to report suspicions of abuse.

Before you report

Tell the child that you’re going to talk to someone who can help. Be clear that you are not asking their permission. 
The child may not want you to report and may be frightened, especially if the perpetrator has threatened them or their loved ones. Remember that by reporting, you are involving authorities who will be able to keep the child safe.

  • Ensure that the child is in a safe place. If you have concerns over the child’s safety, be sure to discuss them explicitly with authorities when you make the report. If you fear that the perpetrator will cause further harm to the child upon learning about the investigation, clearly communicate this to authorities.

  • If you are concerned that the parents are not causing harm, you can consult with them prior to making a report to authorities.

  • If you are a parent and are concerned that your partner or someone in your family may be hurting your child, this may be a very difficult time. It’s important to be there for your child, and it’s also important to take care of yourself. Learn more about being a parent to a child who has experienced sexual abuse and how to practice self-care.

  • Prepare your thoughts. You will likely be asked identifying information about the child, the nature of the abuse, and your relationship with the child. While anonymous tips are always an option, identified reporting increases the likelihood of prosecuting the perpetrator.

Where to report

 

  • If you know or suspect that a child has been sexually assaulted or abused you can report these crimes to the proper authorities, such as DOVVSU OR GHANA POLICE .  03022775677 Or the TOLL FREE 0800-800-800 / 0800-900-900

  • Call  at 0247243393 to be connected with a trained volunteer. Child help Hotline crisis counselors can’t make the report for you, but they can walk you through the process and let you know what to expect.

 

After you report

  • You may not hear or see signs of an investigation right away. Depending on an agency’s policies and your relationship to the child, you may be able to call back to follow up after a few days.

  • If you are able to, continue to play the supportive role you always have in that child’s life. If making the report means that you can’t have this relationship anymore, know that by reporting you are helping that child stay safe.

  • Take care of yourself. Reporting sexual abuse isn’t easy. It’s important to practice self-care during this time


How Can I Protect My Child From Sexual Assault?

A big part of protecting your child is about creating a dialogue. Read more to learn about creating this dialogue and keeping your child safe.

  • Talk to your child if you suspect sexual abuse

  • Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse

What are the warning signs?

Child sexual abuse isn’t always easy to spot. The perpetrator could be someone you’ve known a long time or trust, which may make it even harder to notice. Consider the following warning signs:

links.

Behavioral signs:

  • Changes in hygiene, such as refusing to bathe or bathing excessively

  • Develops phobias

  • Exhibits signs of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Expresses suicidal thoughts, especially in adolescents

  • Has trouble in school, such as absences or drops in grades

  • Inappropriate sexual knowledge or behaviors

  • Nightmares or bed-wetting

  • Overly protective and concerned for siblings, or assumes a caretaker role

  • Returns to regressive behaviors, such as thumb sucking

  • Runs away from home or school

  • Self-harms

  • Shrinks away or seems threatened by physical c

Physical signs:

  • Bleeding, bruises, or swelling in genital area.

  • Bloody, torn, or stained underclothes.

  • Difficulty walking or sitting.

  • Frequent urinary or yeast infections.

  • Pain, itching, or burning in genital area


What Do I Do If I Suspect A Child Is Being Harmed?

1.Recognize the signs

The signs of abuse aren’t always obvious, and learning the warning signs of child sexual abuse could be life saving. You might notice behavioral or physical changes that could signal a child is being abused. Some of these warning signs include:

  • Behavioral signs: Shrinking away from or seeming threatened by physical contact, regressive behaviors like thumb sucking, changing hygiene routines such as refusing to bathe or bathing excessively, age-inappropriate sexual behaviors, sleep disturbances, or nightmares

  • Physical signs: Bruising or swelling near the genital area, blood on sheets or undergarments, or broken bones

  • Verbal cues: Using words or phrases that are “too adult” for their age, unexplained silence, or suddenly being less talkativer.

2. Talk to the child

If you are concerned about abuse, talk to the child. Keep in mind a few guidelines to create a non-threatening environment where the child may be more likely to open up to you.

  • Pick your time and place carefully. Choose a space where the child is comfortable or ask them where they’d like to talk. Avoid talking in front of someone who may be causing the harm.

  • Be aware of your tone. If you start the conversation in a serious tone, you may scare the child, and they may be more likely to give you the answers they think you want to hear—rather than the truth. Try to make the conversation more casual. A non-threatening tone will help put the child at ease and ultimately provide you with more accurate information.

  • Talk to the child directly. Ask questions that use the child’s own vocabulary, but that are a little vague. For example, “Has someone been touching you?” In this context “touching” can mean different things, but it is likely a word the child is familiar with. The child can respond with questions or comments to help you better gauge the situation like, “No one touches me except my mom at bath time,” or “You mean like the way my cousin touches me sometimes?” Understand that sexual abuse can feel good to the child, so asking if someone is “hurting” them may not bring out the information that you are looking for.

  • Listen and follow up. Allow the child to talk freely. Wait for them to pause, and then follow up on points that made you feel concerned.

  • Avoid judgment and blame. Avoid placing blame by using “I” questions and statements. Rather than beginning your conversation by saying, “You said something that made me worry…” consider starting your conversation with the word “I.” For example: “I am concerned because I heard you say that you are not allowed to sleep in your bed by yourself.”

  • Reassure the child. Make sure that the child knows that they are not in trouble. Let them know you are simply asking questions because you are concerned about them.

  • Be patient. Remember that this conversation may be very frightening for the child. Many perpetrators make threats about what will happen if someone finds out about the abuse. They may tell a child that they will be put into foster care or threaten them or their loved ones with physical violence.

3.report it

Reporting a crime like sexual abuse may not be easy, and it can be emotionally draining. Keep in mind that reporting abuse gives you the chance to protect someone who can’t protect themselves. Depending on where you live and your role in the child’s life, you may be legally obligated to report suspicions of abuse.

Before you report

  • Tell the child that you’re going to talk to someone who can help. Be clear that you are not asking their permission. 
The child may not want you to report and may be frightened, especially if the perpetrator has threatened them or their loved ones. Remember that by reporting, you are involving authorities who will be able to keep the child safe.

  • Ensure that the child is in a safe place. If you have concerns over the child’s safety, be sure to discuss them explicitly with authorities when you make the report. If you fear that the perpetrator will cause further harm to the child upon learning about the investigation, clearly communicate this to authorities.

  • If you are concerned that the parents are not causing harm, you can consult with them prior to making a report to authorities.

  • If you are a parent and are concerned that your partner or someone in your family may be hurting your child, this may be a very difficult time. It’s important to be there for your child, and it’s also important to take care of yourself. Learn more about being a parent to a child who has experienced sexual abuse and how to practice self-care.

  • Prepare your thoughts. You will likely be asked identifying information about the child, the nature of the abuse, and your relationship with the child. While anonymous tips are always an option, identified reporting increases the likelihood of prosecuting the perpetrator.

Where to report

  • If you know or suspect that a child has been sexually assaulted or abused you can report these crimes to the proper authorities, such as DOVVSU OR GHANA POLICE .  03022775677 Or the TOLL FREE 0800-800-800 / 0800-900-900

  • Call  at ******** to be connected with a trained volunteer. Child help Hotline crisis counselors can’t make the report for you, but they can walk you through the process and let you know what to expect.

After you report

  • You may not hear or see signs of an investigation right away. Depending on an agency’s policies and your relationship to the child, you may be able to call back to follow up after a few days.

  • If you are able to, continue to play the supportive role you always have in that child’s life. If making the report means that you can’t have this relationship anymore, know that by reporting you are helping that child stay safe.

  • Take care of yourself. Reporting sexual abuse isn’t easy. It’s important to practice self-care during this time.

To speak with someone who is trained to help, call THE SAFE SPACE HELPLINE 024724339

 

How Can I Protect My Child From Sexual Assault?

Posted on January 26, 2018

Sexual abuse can happen to children of any race, socioeconomic group, religion or culture. There is no foolproof way to protect children from sexual abuse, but there are steps you can take to reduce this risk. If something happens to your child, remember that the perpetrator is to blame—not you and especially not the child. Below you’ll find some precautions you can take to help protect the children in your life.

If your child is in immediate danger, don’t hesitate to call THE POLICE. If you aren’t sure of the situation but you suspect the child is being harmed, you can take steps to gauge the situation and put an end to the abuse.

Be involved in the child’s life.

Being actively involved in a child’s life can make warning signs of child sexual abuse more obvious and help the child feel more comfortable coming to you if something isn’t right. If you see or hear something that causes concern, you can take action to protect your child.

  • Show interest in their day-to-day lives. Ask them what they did during the day and who they did it with. Who did they sit with at lunchtime? What games did they play after school? Did they enjoy themselves?

  • Get to know the people in your child’s life. Know who your child is spending time with, including other children and adults. Ask your child about the kids they go to school with, the parents of their friends, and other people they may encounter, such as teammates or coaches. Talk about these people openly and ask questions so that your child can feel comfortable doing the same.

  • Choose caregivers carefully. Whether it’s a babysitter, a new school, or an afterschool activity, be diligent about screening caregivers for your child.

  • Talk about the media. Incidents of sexual violence are frequently covered by the news and portrayed in television shows. Ask your child questions about this coverage to start a conversation. Questions like, “Have you ever heard of this happening before?” or “What would you do if you were in this situation?” can signal to your child that these are important issues that they can talk about with you. Learn more about talking to your kids about sexual assault.

  • Know the warning signs. Become familiar with the warning signs of child sexual abuse, and notice any changes with your child, no matter how small. Whether it’s happening to your child or a child you know, you have the potential to make a big difference in that person’s life by stepping in.

Encourage children to speak up.

When someone knows that their voice will be heard and taken seriously, it gives them the courage to speak up when something isn’t right. You can start having these conversations with your children as soon as they begin using words to talk about feelings or emotions. Don’t worry if you haven’t started conversations around these topics with your child—it is never too late.

  • Teach your child about boundaries. Let your child know that no one has the right to touch them or make them feel uncomfortable — this includes hugs from grandparents or even tickling from mom or dad. It is important to let your child know that their body is their own. Just as importantly, remind your child that they do not have the right to touch someone else if that person does not want to be touched.

  • Teach your child how to talk about their bodies. From an early age, teach your child the names of their body parts. Teaching a child these words gives them the ability to come to you when something is wrong. Learn more about talking to children about sexual assault.

  • Be available. Set time aside to spend with your child where they have your undivided attention. Let your child know that they can come to you if they have questions or if someone is talking to them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. If they do come to you with questions or concerns, follow through on your word and make the time to talk.

  • Let them know they won’t get in trouble. Many perpetrators use secret-keeping or threats as a way of keeping children quiet about abuse. Remind your child frequently that they will not get in trouble for talking to you, no matter what they need to say. When they do come to you, follow through on this promise and avoid punishing them for speaking up.

  • Give them the chance to raise new topics. Sometimes asking direct questions like, “Did you have fun?” and “Was it a good time?” won’t give you the answers you need. Give your child a chance to bring up their own concerns or ideas by asking open-ended questions like “Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?”

To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the Hotline at 0247243393 or chat online at online.TSSF.org

 
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Tips For Talking To Sexual Assault Survivors

It’s not always easy to know what to say when someone tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted, especially if they are a friend or family member. For a survivor, disclosing to someone they care about can be very difficult, so we encourage you to be as supportive and non-judgemental as possible.

Sometimes support means providing resources, such as how to reach the Sexual Assault Hotline, seek medical attention, or report the crime to the police. But often listening is the best way to support a survivor.

 

Here are some specific phrases we recommend to be supportive through a survivor’s healing process:

“I believe you. / It took a lot of courage to tell me about this.” It can be extremely difficult for survivors to come forward and share their story. They may feel ashamed, concerned that they won’t be believed, or worried they’ll be blamed. Leave any “why” questions or investigations to the experts—your job is to support this person. Be careful not to interpret calmness as a sign that the event did not occur—everyone responds to traumatic events differently. The best thing you can do is to believe them.

“It’s not your fault. / You didn’t do anything to deserve this.” Survivors may blame themselves, especially if they know the perpetrator personally. Remind the survivor, maybe even more than once, that they are not to blame.

“You are not alone. / I care about you and am here to listen or help in any way I can.” Let the survivor know that you are there for them and willing to listen to their story if they are comfortable sharing it. Assess if there are people in their life they feel comfortable going to, and remind them that there are service providers who will be able to support them as they heal from the experience.

“I’m sorry this happened. / This shouldn’t have happened to you.” Acknowledge that the experience has affected their life. Phrases like “This must be really tough for you,” and, “I’m so glad you are sharing this with me,” help to communicate empathy.

Continued Support

There’s no timetable when it comes to recovering from sexual violence. If someone trusted you enough to disclose the event to you, consider the following ways to show your continued support.

  • Avoid judgment. It can be difficult to watch a survivor struggle with the effects of sexual assault for an extended period of time. Avoid phrases that suggest they’re taking too long to recover such as, “You’ve been acting like this for a while now,” or “How much longer will you feel this way?”

  • Check in periodically. The event may have happened a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean the pain is gone. Check in with the survivor to remind them you still care about their well-being and believe their story.

  • Know your resources. You’re a strong supporter, but that doesn’t mean you’re equipped to manage someone else’s health. Become familiar with resources you can recommend to a survivor, such as the Sexual Assault Hotline 0247243393 and online.tssf.org

    • It’s often helpful to contact your local sexual assault service provider for advice on medical care and laws surrounding sexual assault. If the survivor seeks medical attention or plans to report, offer to be there. Your presence can offer the support they need.

    • If someone you care about is considering suicide, learn the warning signs, and offer help and support. For more information about suicide prevention please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 0207373222 any time, day or night.

    • Encourage them to practice good self-care during this difficult time.

Self-Care for Friends and Family

It’s important to know that there is no normal or one way to react when you find out someone you care about has survived an act of sexual violence. Regardless of what you’re feeling, these emotions can be intense and difficult to deal with. Learning how to manage these feelings can help you support the survivor in your life and can help you feel less overwhelmed.

How am I supposed to react?

There is no “right” reaction to hearing that someone you care about has survived an act of sexual violence. You may experience some of the following emotions:

  • Anger. You might feel anger for a number of reasons: towards yourself for not being able to protect the survivor; towards the survivor for telling you about something that is hard to hear, or because they waited a period of time before telling you; or towards the perpetrator for carrying out the assault and hurting the survivor. It can be difficult to keep anger from affecting the way you communicate. Let yourself acknowledge this emotion and find another outlet to express it.

  • Anxiety. You might feel anxious about responding the “right” way or worried about how this event will impact your relationship with the survivor. Reassure the survivor that the assault was not their fault and that you believe them. These can be the most powerful and helpful words for a survivor to hear.

  • Confusion. You might feel confused by what you’re hearing. You might not understand how it could happen or why it has happened. Sadly, sexual assaults are more common that we’d like to think. Although you may be struggling with feelings of confusion, especially if you know the perpetrator, you should always try to believe the survivor. They are never to blame for the assault.

  • Disbelief. When you first hear about the assault you might be surprised or shocked, and you might have trouble believing the assault happened. After a traumatic experience, it’s common for survivors and those around them to experience denial. It’s important to focus on believing the survivor and acknowledging their story.

  • Guilt. You may feel guilty that you could not prevent the assault from happening or that the survivor didn’t feel comfortable telling you about the assault right way. You may feel guilty that something so terrible happened to someone else and not to you. It can be helpful to refocus your energy on making the survivor feel supported as they move forward.

  • Sadness. When you learn that a trauma like sexual assault happened to someone you care about, it’s normal to feel sad, hopeless, worried, or powerless. You might feel sad for the survivor or mourn how this has changed their life. If you know the perpetrator, you might feel sad for how this has changed your life as well. Self-care strategies and coping skills can help you move through these feelings.

How do I practice self-care?

Good self-care enables you to better care for others, especially if there is someone in your life who has survived sexual violence. The principles of self-care for friends and family are similar to the self-care concepts for survivors, but there are some additional aspects to consider.

  • Maintain your lifestyle. It can be difficult to stay emotionally strong if you are mostly focusing on the sexual assault. Maintaining your lifestyle and continuing to do what you enjoy is important for your emotional wellness. If you enjoy painting, cooking, exercising, spending time with friends, or other activities, keep them up. It may seem challenging to make time to do these activities, but they can be helpful self-care strategies in the long-run.

  • Make plans. Sometimes talking about what happened can help you cope with your feelings, and other times it can make you feel more stuck. Make plans that give you a break from talking or thinking about the assault. It could mean starting a new hobby or revisiting one you already enjoy. You could go to dinner with a group of friends who understand this isn’t time to discuss what happened. Maybe you prefer a solo activity, like going on long walks. Let this be a time where you can take your mind off the assault.

  • Reach out and talk about it. It’s normal to have a difficult time processing the sexual assault of someone you care about. It can continue to be difficult as time goes on and the survivor begins the healing process. You can call the Sexual Assault Hotline at 0247243393 or visit at online.tssf.org to chat with someone who understands what you’re going through. You can also consider talking to someone who is trained professionally to help you deal with these thoughts and feelings, like a mental health professional.

  • Take time to relax. Relaxation looks different for everyone. You might consider meditation or deep breathing exercises. Maybe journaling helps you sort through your thoughts and find peace. Build time into your day for these moments of relaxation so that you don’t skip out



Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

Posted on January 27, 2018

If you’re an adult who experienced sexual abuse as a child, know that you are not alone.Many perpetrators of sexual abuse are in a position of trust or responsible for the child’s care, such as a family member, teacher, clergy member, or coach.

No matter what, the abuse was not your fault. It’s never too late to start healing from this experience.

What are the effects of child sexual abuse for adults?

If you experienced sexual abuse as a child, you may encounter a range of short- and long-term effects that many survivors face. Adult survivors of child sexual abuse may have some of the following concerns that are specific to their experience:

  • Guilt, shame, and blame. You might feel guilty about not having been able to stop the abuse, or even blame yourself if you experienced physical pleasure. It is important for you to understand that it was the person that hurt you that should be held accountable—not you.

  • Intimacy and relationships. It’s possible that your first experiences with sex came as a result of sexual abuse. As an adult, intimacy might be a struggle at times. Some survivors experience flashbacks or painful memories while engaging in sexual activity, even though it is consensual and on their own terms. Survivors may also struggle to set boundaries that help them feel safe in relationships.

  • Self-esteem. You may struggle with low self-esteem, which can be a result of the negative messages you received from your abuser(s), and from having your personal safety violated or ignored. Low self-esteem can affect many different areas of your life such as your relationships, your career, and even your health.

 

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Why do I still feel this way?

As an adult survivor, you have been living with these memories for a long time. Some survivors keep the abuse a secret for many years. They may have tried to tell an adult and met with resistance or felt there was no one they could trust. For these reasons and many others, the effects of sexual abuse can occur many years after the abuse has ended. Remember that there is no set timeline for dealing with and recovering from this experience.


Therapy For Sexual Violence

What is therapy?

Psychotherapy, more commonly referred to as “therapy,” is an open, non-judgmental space to work through problems or challenges. In therapy, you may learn new coping skills, ways to deal with your feelings, and strategies for managing stress. You can also explore thoughts that you might not say out loud to a friend or family member.

What should I consider if I’m looking for a therapist?

  • Experience with your issue. If you survived a trauma like sexual assault or abuse, it can be helpful to know that your therapist has experience working with your specific challenges. Ask about their experience working with survivors of sexual assault and how they’ve helped them overcome issues specific to this kind of trauma.

  • Personality. Success in therapy depends on creating an open, honest dialogue with your therapist. It’s often easier to open up when you “click” with your therapist’s personality and style. It’s okay to interview a few prospective therapists on the phone or have a couple of sessions before finding the right fit.

  • Type of therapy. There are different approaches, or theories, of psychotherapy that will influence how your sessions play out. Some forms of therapy involve more talking, while others involve more “homework” or exercises to practice after your session.

A safe, confidential space

Generally, what you say to your therapist will remain private. Therapists know that in order to be comfortable sharing very personal information, you need trust that anything you share will stay between the two of you. There are a few exceptions to this rule to keep you and others safe. For instance, if a therapist believes that a patient has made a credible threat to hurt themselves or others, the therapist may notify a family member or law enforcement in order to keep everyone safe.

Talking about timelines

Some people are concerned that starting therapy means entering into a lifelong contract. That isn’t usually the case. While there is no timeline for recovering from sexual assault or abuse, you may be able to work with a therapist for a defined amount of time to help you find ways to heal from the experience.

Therapeutic treatments are designed to give you tools to structure your life and interact with your environment in a healthy way that works for you. Some patients are ready to leave therapy after a few months. Other patients find a therapeutic relationship to be beneficial and want to continue counseling for a longer period of time. You can, and should, talk about timelines with your therapist. A flexible timeline can help you set goals for recovery and make it easier to track your progress.

When you’re ready to leave therapy, remember that the door doesn’t have to remain closed. You can always schedule a check-in appointment at a later time or resume therapy if you need it.

Changing therapists

You may decide at a certain point that your relationship with your therapist isn’t working out. Maybe you aren’t seeing the progress you had hoped, or maybe you feel that you just don’t “click.” For the sake of your own health and progress, do not abruptly stop attending sessions. Consider the following tips to help you through process of transitioning to new support.

  • First, write out your concerns. Then set them aside for a little while. Review this list later when you’ve had some time to think about it. It can be helpful to bring this list into a session with your current therapist to guide a conversation about your concerns.

  • Communicate with your therapist. Ask to reserve time at the end of the appointment to discuss your concerns. It can seem intimidating to tell a therapist you wish to leave. Remember that they are professionals. Most therapists will be able to give you a referral for another professional that might be better suited for your particular situation.

  • Get a second opinion. If you’re not sure that this current treatment is working out for you, you can seek the opinion of another professional. They may confirm your concerns or they could reaffirm that you are on the right track.

  • Be prepared to retell your story. A new therapist won’t know your personal history. You may have to retell parts of your life that you haven’t addressed explicitly in a while. You are entitled to ask for a copy of your records to share with your new therapist, but it’s likely that they will want to do their own assessment.

Recovering From Sexual Violence

Posted on January 27, 2018

Recovering from a sexual assault or abuse is a process, and that process looks different for everyone. It may take weeks, months, or years—there’s no timetable for healing. Below you’ll find some resources to help you navigate the proc

For Survivors

  • How Can Therapy Help? – If you decide to seek support from a therapist after sexual assault or abuse, you may have some questions. That’s perfectly normal. Working with a therapist can help you deal with some of the challenges you may be facing.

  • Safety Planning – Brainstorming ways to stay safe may help reduce the risk of future harm.

  • Self-Care After Trauma – Whether it happened recently or years ago, self-care can help you cope with the short- and long-term effects of a trauma like sexual assault.

  • Tips for Survivors on Consuming Media – Movies and TV shows that show sexual assault, incest, and child sexual abuse can be very difficult for survivors to watch.

  • Airport Security for Survivors – Airport security can be stressful for any traveler, but for some survivors of sexual assault the security screening process is a little more sensitive.

For Loved Ones

  • Tips for Talking with Survivors of Sexual Assault – It’s not always easy to know what to say when someone tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted, especially if they are a friend or family member.

  • Help Someone You Care About – There are many ways that you can help a friend or family member who has been affected by sexual violence.

  • Self-Care for Friends and Family – There is no normal or “right” way to react when you find out that someone you care about has survived an act of sexual violence. Regardless of what you’re feeling, these emotions can be intense and difficult to deal with.

  • Help for Parents of Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused by Family Members – It’s important to find a way to manage your feelings, so you can focus on creating a safe environment for your child that is free from harm, judgment, and blame.

If you decide to seek support from a therapist after sexual assault or abuse, you may have some questions. That’s perfectly normal. Working with a therapist can help you deal with some of the challenges you may be facing.



I Am a Kid And Something Happened

Tell Someone. If somebody touches you in a way you don’t like or touches an area covered by a bathing suit, tell someone you trust.

Say no. If somebody wants to hug you, kiss you, or touch your body, you can always tell them no. It’s not OK for ANYONE to touch you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable — even if they are older or in charge, like your teacher. You can always say no to any touch that makes you feel unsafe.

Some secrets are OK to share. You don’t have to keep secrets about spending time with someone or getting gifts from them. If someone makes you scared or upset, it’s OK to tell a grown-up you trust.

It’s OK if you are scared. It’s normal to feel scared about telling and getting in trouble. That’s OK. You are really brave to tell. Keep telling until someone helps you.


Your Role in Preventing Sexual Assault

The only person responsible for committing sexual assault is a perpetrator, but all of us have the ability to look out for each other’s safety. Whether it’s giving someone a safe ride home from a party or directly confronting a person who is engaging in threatening behavior, anyone can help prevent sexual violence.

What is a bystander?

A bystander is a person who is present when an event takes place but isn’t directly involved. Bystanders might be present when sexual assault or abuse occurs—or they could witness the circumstances that lead up to these crimes.

On average there are over 2,000 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year. The majority of these crimes are committed by someone the victim knows. Given these circumstances, it’s important to recognize the role bystanders can play in preventing crimes like sexual assault.

What can I do to prevent sexual assault?

You may have heard the term “bystander intervention” to describe a situation where someone who isn’t directly involved steps in to change the outcome. Stepping in may give the person you’re concerned about a chance to get to a safe place or leave the situation. You don’t have to be a hero or even stand out from the crowd to make a big difference in someone’s life. Take steps to protect someone who may be at risk in a way that fits your comfort level.

Whether you’re taking home a friend who has had too much to drink, explaining that a rape joke isn’t funny, or getting security involved when someone is behaving aggressively, choosing to step in can affect the way those around you think about and respond to sexual violence.

Why don’t people help more often?

It’s not always easy to step in, even if you know it’s the right thing to do. Some common reasons bystanders remain on the sidelines include:

  • “I don’t know what to do or what to say.”

  • “I don’t want to cause a scene.”

  • “It’s not my business.”

  • “I don’t want my friend to be mad at me.”

  • “I’m sure someone else will step in.”

It’s okay to have these thoughts, but it’s important to realize that your actions can have a big impact. In many situations, bystanders have the opportunity to prevent crimes like sexual assault from happening in the first place.

Your actions matter

Whether or not you were able to change the outcome of the situation, by stepping in you are helping change the way people think about their roles in preventing sexual violence. If you suspect that someone you know has been sexually assaulted, there are steps you can take to support that person.

  • Learn more about steps you can take to prevent a sexual assault and

  • Identify ways to help someone you care about.

  • Learn more about how to respond when someone discloses sexual assault or abuse.

 

To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the Sexual Assault Hotline at 0247243393 or chat online at online.tssf.org

 

Steps You Can Take To Prevent Sexual Assault

Posted on January 27, 2018

Everyone has a role to play in preventing sexual assault. There are many different ways that you can step in or make a difference if you see someone at risk. This approach to preventing sexual assault is referred to as “bystander intervention.”

How Can I Play A Role In Preventing Sexual Assault?

The key to keeping your friends safe is learning how to intervene in a way that fits the situation and your comfort level. Having this knowledge on hand can give you the confidence to step in when something isn’t right. Stepping in can make all the difference, but it should never put your own safety at risk.

Create A Distraction

Do what you can to interrupt the situation. A distraction can give the person at risk a chance to get to a safe place.

  • Cut off the conversation with a diversion like, “Let’s get pizza, I’m starving,” or “This party is lame. Let’s try somewhere else.”

  • Bring out fresh food or drinks and offer them to everyone at the party, including the people you are concerned about.

  • Start an activity that is draws other people in, like a game, a debate, or a dance party.

Ask Directly

Talk directly to the person who might be in trouble.

  • Ask questions like “Who did you come here with?” or “Would you like me to stay with you?”

Refer To An Authority

Sometimes the safest way to intervene is to refer to a neutral party with the authority to change the situation, like an elder  or security guard.

  • Talk to a security guard, bartender, or another employee about your concerns. It’s in their best interest to ensure that their patrons are safe, and they will usually be willing to step in.

  • Don’t hesitate to call police if you are concerned for someone else’s safety.

Enlist Others

It can be intimidating to approach a situation alone. Enlist another person to support you.

  • Ask someone to come with you to approach the person at risk. When it comes to expressing concern, sometimes there is power in numbers.

  • Ask someone to intervene in your place. For example, you could ask someone who knows the person at risk to escort them to the bathroom.

  • Enlist the friend of the person you’re concerned about. “Your friend looks like they’ve had a lot to drink. Can you check on them?”

Your Actions Matter

Whether or not you were able to change the outcome, by stepping in you are helping to change the way people think about their role in preventing sexual assault. If you suspect that someone you know has been sexually assaulted, there are steps you can take to support that person and show you care.

  • Help Someone You Care About

  • How to Respond to a Survivor

To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the  Assault Hotline at 02472433993 or chat online at online.tssf.org.

 
 

Sexual Consent

Posted on January 26, 2018

The laws about consent vary by country and situation. It can make the topic confusing, but you don’t have to be a legal expert to understand how consent plays out in real life.

What is consent?

Consent is an agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity. There are many ways to give consent, and some of those are discussed below. Consent doesn’t have to be verbal, but verbally agreeing to different sexual activities can help both you and your partner respect each other’s boundaries.

How does consent work in real life?

When you’re engaging in sexual activity, consent is about communication. And it should happen every time. Giving consent for one activity, one time, does not mean giving consent for increased or recurring sexual contact. For example, agreeing to kiss someone doesn’t give that person permission to remove your clothes. Having sex with someone in the past doesn’t give that person permission to have sex with you again in the future.

You can change your mind at any time.

You can withdraw consent at any point if you feel uncomfortable. It’s important to clearly communicate to your partner that you are no longer comfortable with this activity and wish to stop. The best way to ensure both parties are comfortable with any sexual activity is to talk about it.

Positive consent can look like this:

  • Communicating when you change the type or degree of sexual activity with phrases like “Is this OK?”

  • Explicitly agreeing to certain activities, either by saying “yes” or another affirmative statement, like “I’m open to trying.”

  • Using physical cues to let the other person know you’re comfortable taking things to the next level

It does NOT look like this:

  • Refusing to acknowledge “no”

  • Assuming that wearing certain clothes, flirting, or kissing is an invitation for anything more

  • Someone being under the legal age of consent, as defined by the state

  • Someone being incapacitated because of drugs or alcohol

  • Pressuring someone into sexual activity by using fear or intimidation

  • Assuming you have permission to engage in a sexual act because you’ve done it in the past

If you’ve experienced sexual assault, you’re not alone. To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the Hotline at 0247243393 or chat online at online.tssf.org.

 

Intimate Partner Sexual Violence

Posted on January 26, 2018

A perpetrator can have any relationship to a victim, and that includes the role of an intimate partner. There are many different terms to refer to sexual assault committed by a person in a relationship with the victim, including: intimate partner sexual violence, domestic violence, intimate partner rape, marital rape, and spousal rape. No matter what term is used or how the relationship is defined, it is never okay to engage in sexual activity without someone’s consent.

How does sexual assault relate to domestic violence?

Sexual assault in a relationship rarely exists in a vacuum. It often occurs alongside other forms of abusive behavior. The majority of women who were physically assaulted by an intimate partner had been sexually assaulted by that same partner.

Why should I reach out?

If you have experienced sexual assault by an intimate partner, it can be challenging to come forward for many reasons. You may be concerned for your safety or the safety of your children, still have strong feelings for your partner, or aren’t convinced that what’s happening to you is really sexual assault. It’s understandable to feel this way.

Ending an abusive relationship is not something that you have to do alone. Reaching out for help from friends, loved ones, local organizations or law enforcement can help you through this process.

Help is available

You can find support from a confidential, non-judgmental source.

  • To speak with someone who is trained to help, call our Helpline at 02447243393 or chat online at online.TSSF.org Call the DOVVSU Hotline at 0247243393 any time, 24/7

  • Learn more about safety planning to brainstorm ideas for safety or escape.

To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the Hotline at 0247243393 or chat online at online.tssf.or

 Legal Disclaimer

The Safe Space Foundation (TSSF) website provides general information that is intended, but not guaranteed, to be correct and up-to-date. The information is not presented as a source of legal advice. You should not rely, for legal advice, on statements or representations made within the website or by any externally referenced Internet sites. If you need legal advice upon which you intend to rely in the course of your legal affairs, consult a competent, independent attorney. TSSF does not assume any responsibility for actions or non-actions taken by people who have visited this site, and no one shall be entitled to a claim for detrimental reliance on any information provided or expressed.

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