Based on Measuring #MeToo: A National Study on Sexual Harassment and Assault In the state of California, 26% or one in four women and 10% or one in 10 men have survived sexual assault in California. The survey respondents who survived sexual assault had likewise experienced sexual harassment in or out of the workplace. Additionally, less than 10% of individuals reported their sexual assault experience to authorities.
Surviving a sexual assault can negatively impact not only the survivor’s life but the lives of their loved ones as well. However, it can be difficult to determine whether a loved one has been assaulted.
Common Warning Signs of Sexual Assault
There’s simply no right or wrong way to react to sexual assault. Different people will react differently to being sexually assaulted, and its effects will also differ from one person to another. That being said, there are certain signs that may indicate that someone has been assaulted, such as:
- Sudden mood swings, including withdrawal, anger, fear, or rage
- Unusual weight loss or weight gain
- Physical signs of abuse, like bruises
- Excessive eating or loss of appetite
- Signs of depression, including persistent sadness, lethargy, fatigue, withdrawal from daily activities, or sleep disturbances
- Frequent nightmares
- Anxiety or excessive worrying
- Not wanting to go to school or failing grades, if the individual is still in school.
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Self-harming behavior
- Changes in daily or self-care routines, including not bathing or paying less attention to their appearance or hygiene
- Expressing suicidal thoughts or behavior
How to Support a Sexual Assault Survivor
Expect to feel a lot of powerful and overwhelming emotions when you find out that a loved one has been assaulted. You may feel sad and angry that something so devastating happened to your loved one. You may also feel very guilty that you weren’t there to prevent the assault from happening and feel confused about how you can help your loved one heal.
But it’s immensely vital for partners, friends, and family members to support and help their loved ones overcome the negative impact of an assault. Here are some tips to help your loved one:
- Believe their story.
- Don’t judge them and never say anything that can be misconstrued as victim-blaming, such as “why were you there in the first place?”
- Never force them to talk about the assault.
- Give them space to express their feelings.
- Always reassure them that they’re safe.
- Don’t take their mood swings personally.
- Never say things like “you’re lucky it was not worse.” Statements like this just make sexual assault survivors feel guilty.
- Help with daily tasks, like cooking, cleaning, running errands, etc.
Seek Legal Guidance from an Experienced Santa Barbara, CA, Sexual Assault Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been sexually assaulted, our experienced and compassionate Santa Barbara, CA, sexual assault attorneys are prepared to help. Reach out to The Law Offices of Bamieh& De Smeth, PLC, to arrange your free case review with our Santa Barbara, CA, sexual assault attorney. Contact us online or call 805-643-5555 for more information.