There are many ways for survivors to heal from sexual assault. For some survivors, part of the healing process involves:
- getting involved in efforts to support other survivors,
- raising awareness about sexual violence,
- working towards preventing sexual violence, and
- getting involved to change laws and policies about the crimes of sexual violence and the treatment of survivors.
Every survivor should consider the impact that such work can have on their own healing process. Only you can judge if you are ready to get involved, but we encourage you to work with someone you trust, like a rape crisis counselor or a trusted friend, to help determine when you may be ready to get involved and what activities would be the best fit for you. If you need to find your local rape crisis center, RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline can also put you in touch with a local support source of support and advice.
RAINN also provides excellent advice and information about the process of recovering from sexual violence on their website.
Learn more about healing from sexual violence.
Should I Speak Out Publicly?
The decision to speak publically is a personal one. There are many who speak publicly – as a guest speaker, as part of a panel, or are interviewed for news stories – and are open to sharing their experiences. Many say this has been a part of their healing journey. There are many others who choose to keep the details of their experience and lives private. Both are equally valid decisions and the right one for you is the one you choose.
While most requests for public speaking will be well-intentioned, survivors should always know they have a right to say no for any reason, or none at all.
The publications linked below offer considerations and guidance for those who are considering a more public profile. We encourage you to take a few minutes and read through them.
Speaking out from Within: Speaking Publicly About Sexual Assault
|Sharing Your Story: How to Think through Your Options|
|Your Voice, Your Choice: A Survivor Media Guide|
When You Are Ready
There are many ways you can use your experience with sexual violence to help others. These are just a few to consider:
- Become an advocate for survivors. Use what you’ve learned from your healing process to help others having a similar experience. Although every survivor’s path is unique, your own first-hand knowledge of your process can help you to better relate to the unique experiences other survivors are having. The best way to become an advocate is to reach out to your local rape crisis center and inquire about volunteering as an advocate. Advocates usually answer telephone calls from survivors and may also provide support to survivors during forensic exams or court proceedings.
- Become an activist. The services and support available to survivors today exist because of decades of activism. There is no one way to become an activist for social changes that end sexual violence, but many people begin their activism by finding like-minded people in their community and working together to raise awareness about sexual violence and advocate for change through organizing art projects, performances, marches, or speaking to lawmakers. V-Day, Denim Day, and Take Back the Night are good examples of community events where many activists get their start. Contact your local rape crisis center to see how you can get involved in your local community. If you are a college student, SAFER has many resources you can use to create change on your campus.