How Supporting Victims Impacts You
As the supporter of a survivor, you may find yourself having a variety of reactions to the assault. You may have reactions of grief, anger, frustration, and devastation that may be surprising to you. It will be helpful for you to learn how to cope with both your feelings and with the feelings of the survivor. Unfortunately, you may not feel you have an outlet for your feelings of frustration, and you may transfer your anger or frustration to the survivor. This can especially happen when:
- You are feeling taxed or burnt out emotionally because the need for understanding and patience seems unending. It is important for you to connect to your own support system (Sexual Assault Services is here to help supporters as well as survivors).
- You may feel that "the survivor should put the assault behind her/him now and move on with life." It may be important to learn about Rape Trauma Syndrome or the Spiral of Recovery to better understand that it takes time to heal (To learn more about these recovery models you can talk to someone at Sexual Assault Services. To read more about Rape Trauma Syndrome, please click here).
- You feel anger towards the survivor for decisions you may feel "allowed the incident to occur". As discussed earlier, debunking the myths about sexual assault and talking to someone at Sexual Assault Services is a better way to deal with that frustration.
- You know the perpetrator, or mutual friends are involved. The perpetrator may be telling others a different version of the incident that can cause you to have feelings of anger, rage or doubt about the survivor's story. These feelings are normal, and but you must also to remember to be accepting and supportive of the survivor.
Put aside your feelings, and deal with them somewhere else. Although it is supportive for a rape survivor to know that others are equally upset with what happened, it does them no good if on top of their own feelings, they also have to deal with your feelings of rage and anger. if you need help finding support or managing your feelings, Sexual Assault Services is here for you, too.