FOR VICTIMS AND SURVIVORS

SPECIAL CONCERNS OF VICTIMS

Acquaintance/Non-Stranger Rape
In Arkansas, the law does not differentiate between acquaintance and stranger rape. Just because the rapist is known to the victim does not mean that it is a less serious crime than if the rapist was a stranger.

Approximately 80% of rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows.  These rapes are often planned and deliberate. In date and acquaintance rape situations, victims know, and often trust, their attackers. Rape is against the law even in cases when a victim knows his or her attacker, is on a date, or is in a relationship with the offender.

*Being forced into sex by someone you know IS rape. No matter how serious your relationship, no matter what you were doing or where you were at the time of the rape, the person who assaulted you is to blame. No one asks for violence or deserves to be raped.

*You may come to question your judgment about people and your trust in them, or you may feel guilty that you should have seen some “warning signs.” It is important to remember that no one can identify a potential rapist and that most rapists appear “normal.”

*You may experience disbelief and rejection from friends and mutual acquaintances. This lack of support can make you feel alone and isolated. Seek out those who can and will support you, such as a rape crisis advocate.

Spouse/Significant Other Rape
Rape committed by a spouse or significant other often occurs within the context of a greater web of violence. Domestic violence refers to emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse occurring within a family or close relationship. It is serious and is often a life-threatening pattern of violence. Each form of abuse is just as painful and significant as the other. Domestic violence is an intentional act used to gain power and control over another person. It is estimated that as many as 50% of all women will be victims of domestic violence at some time in her life.

If you have been a victim of rape committed by a spouse or significant other, ORCC is available to help you in your recovery from sexual assault. We will also provide referrals for more information and assistance with domestic violence issues.

Teenagers
If you were forced into sexual activity against your will, a crime has been committed against you.  What happened to you IS NOT your fault. Regardless of who assaulted you----a stranger, someone you know, or even someone in your family, you are NOT to blame. Please keep in mind the following information:

*You may have questions about your relationships and sexuality. You may have no previous sexual experience and have questions about what happened to you.

*You may have difficulty trusting others or knowing who to trust.

*You may be tempted to use drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. Remember      that drug and alcohol abuse provides only temporary relief. Ultimately, drug     abuse causes more problems than it solves.

*You may experience panic attacks and flashbacks of the rape.

*You may have problems in school: difficulty concentrating, intrusive thoughts about the assault, not getting your work done on time, or a drop in grades.

*If classmates know about the rape, you may be faced with difficult times at school. You may see the rapist every day at school. You may feel isolated and confused by your friends' reactions.

Remember that there are people you can trust who can help--maybe another family member, a friend, an advocate, or a counselor. Please consider seeking help. These are difficult issues to deal with on your own.

Older Survivors
As an older survivor, you may have thought that this could never happen to you. It is important to recognize that rape is a violent crime motivated by anger and power, not sexual gratification. Many survivors experience shame and embarrassment following a sexual assault. You may be feeling particularly vulnerable and unsafe right now. You may feel like limiting your activities, not leaving your home, or letting someone else take care of you. These are normal feelings, but talking about them with someone--a friend, counselor, or advocate, may help you to work through these concerns.

A medical exam is important but may seem especially traumatic right now. You may be worried about money if you are on a fixed income. Remember that your medical expenses can be paid for by the State of Arkansas if you seek medical attention within 96 hours.

You may have concerns about telling your children and friends. It is your choice who to tell about the assault. Talking with a counselor or advocate may help you to sort through your questions and feelings. Your children and friends may also benefit from talking to an ORCC advocate.

Male Survivors
Because it is usually thought that rape happens only to women, you may be feeling alone and isolated. Remember that approximately one in thirty three men either have been or will be victims of rape. You may also feel some of the same feelings that women do: guilt, powerlessness, and concern for your safety. These are all normal feelings. The information on this website applies to both male and female survivors of rape.

Male rape survivors often voice concerns about their masculinity and sexual identity. It may be difficult for a man to accept that he was vulnerable to rape. Male survivors may believe that they allowed the rape to happen and therefore must be homosexual. The male survivor’s self-blame and fear of homosexuality sometimes results in reluctance to seek help. It is important to remember that rape is an act of violence and is not sexually motivated. Male rape says nothing of the sexual orientation of the victim or the perpetrator. In fact, most perpetrators are heterosexual.

Remember that you are not to blame. It may be helpful to seek counseling to talk about your emotions, fears, and concerns.  It can be very therapeutic and healing to express your full range of emotions and seek out support for your feelings.

LGBTQ Survivors
In addition to the many emotional responses to rape that all persons have, you may wonder whether the assault happened because of your sexual orientation. Remember that most rapists do not have a particular victim in mind, but are looking for a target upon whom to take out their expressions of anger and power.

You may have very real concerns about disclosure of your sexual orientation and fear that your sexual identity, not the rape may become the focus of your treatment. Whether you choose to disclose or not, you have the right to the same sensitive treatment as any other victim of rape.

You may be concerned about how your significant other and other members of your community will react to what happened. For many, talking about rape with a counselor or ORCC advocate may ease this concern. Remember that all ORCC advocates are screened for homophobia and will respond to your needs in a sensitive and ethical manner. It may also be helpful for your partner and close friends to talk to a counselor or ORCC advocate.

Individuals with Disabilities
You may be feeling particularly vulnerable and unsafe right now, as though you have lost your control and independence. Your self-confidence may be temporarily undermined. These are normal feelings, but talking about them to someone--a friend, counselor, or rape crisis advocate--can be helpful.

Other people, including care givers, may believe myths about people with disabilities and thus treat you differently. Even at this time of difficulty for you, you may have to combat these myths by speaking up about your needs and concerns. You may have a variety of needs, such as housing and transportation, with which counselors and advocates can assist.

 


Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Assault
Child sexual abuse is a term which describes a range of behaviors including sexual contact or fondling, oral/genital contact, sexual exploitation, and sexual penetration of a child. This abuse is usually committed by an older person in a position of power and trust. Child sexual abuse perpetrators may be family members (parents, step-parents, siblings, uncles, etc.), friends of the family, persons who are entrusted to care for the child (baby sitters, extra-curricular activity leaders, professionals, etc.) or complete strangers.

If you are a survivor of childhood sexual assault, it is very important to understand that a child cannot make a knowledgeable and consenting decision to have sexual involvement with another person, so you are not to blame for what happened to you. Perpetrators of sexual abuse often use their positions of authority, power, and trust to coerce and manipulate children and teens into sexual activity. They may offer gifts, extra attention, or coerce children by saying that the abuse is normal, required, or educational.

Child sexual abuse perpetrators deliberately make their victims feel responsible for the abuse, and victims subsequently carry blame for many years. This self-blame can be very damaging, and it will help you to eventually realize that you were not responsible for the abuse. Sexual abuse can continue into adulthood, and it is important for the adult survivor to understand that she or he is not to blame for the abuse. The power differential between the abuser and abused is still present, and after years of sexual abuse, any sexual activity with the perpetrator cannot be considered consensual.

Childhood sexual abuse can have negative effects on a person's sense of self-control, body-image, self-worth, relationships, and sexuality. Survivors may be at greater risk for difficulties such as depression, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, and self-destructive behaviors.

You may want to consider a support group to talk about your feelings with other survivors.  Please feel free to call ORCC for information about support groups and for assistance with counseling referrals.