How Can I Help? : Chicago, Illinois, Rape Victim Advocates...helping victims become survivors since 1974
When someone is raped it affects not only the survivor, but also all of the people around them. Part of what makes it so difficult is not knowing what to say or do. This section of our website will hopefully give you a basis for dealing with a survivor, and a way in which to offer constructive help.
Let them know that you believe them
All too often, disclosure is met by skepticism or outright disbelief. Simply letting a survivor know that you believe them and that you stand behind them is a great help. Remember that although you may be having a strong reaction to what happened, it's important that the focus be on the feelings and reactions of the survivor rather than your own.
Allow the survivor to make his or her own decisions
This point can be very difficult, it can be very tempting to "take over" for a while in an attempt to help the survivor deal with the rape. It is important to remember that because of the rape, the survivor felt a loss of control over their life. Reestablishing that control is very important. Try to defer to a survivor's decisions, even if they decide to let you make some decisions. Then at least that was their choice and not yours. If a survivor wants to talk, try to be an open listener. If they prefer not to talk about the assault, then try to be supportive in other ways, letting them know that you care about him/her and are willing to listen at a later time if so desired.
Educate yourself about the myths of rape
A great deal of harm is done, often unintentionally, to survivors because the people around them believe the myths that surround rape. Rape is never the fault of the survivor, but rather the fault of the rapist. Although this sounds like a simple, even obvious, fact much of the misinformation that exists points to the victim as being responsible for the rape. To be truly supportive, one must believe the survivor while disbelieving and challenging the myths that surround rape.
Be ready to listen
Being a willing listener, who acknowledges the feelings of a person, makes you a great asset in the life of a survivor close to you. Sometimes it's very useful to simply be with a person and create a safe silence if need be. Non-judgmental support helps survivors tremendously as they recover from this traumatic event. If he/she indicates that they might want to seek professional help, or if you feel completely out of your depth, they are welcome to call the 24-hour Chicago Rape Crisis Hotline at 1-888-293-2080.
Try not to worry too much about "saying the right thing." Being available to listen is far more important. Just let a survivor know that you care, and all else will follow.
Help RVA to help others
Your tax deductable donation to Rape Victim Advocates will help to continue providing services to victims of sexual assault and abuse, and their significant others. How much does a donation from an individual really impact RVA? Take a look at what your donation could directly support;
- $50 - Transportation to assist 2-3 rape victims in Chicago emergency rooms
- $150 - 10 hours of prevention education to middle and high school students
- $300 - Support materials and supplies for incest or childhood sexual assault survivors group