Supporting victims of sexual assault
ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Coming forward with being sexually assaulted isn’t easy for survivors and may take them days, weeks, even years to tell anyone.
Sexual assault victim support organizations say it may take a long time for a survivor to report the assault, especially in smaller communities.
“Being in that small community when something very intimate and private happened to you is going to spread like wildfire,” Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault advocacy, medical forensic, and prevention programs director, Jude Foster said.
There are a number of reasons why a survivor may not tell anyone about what happened to them.
“If they come out with saying this happened to me, are they going to be made fun of? Is the blame going to be put back on them?” University of Minnesota Rochester Associate Vice-Chancellor for Student Success, Engagement, and Equity Javier Gutierrez said.
Some may blame the victim or not believe them.
“Sexual violence is the only crime that we say, ‘well it’s he said, she said.’ We don’t say that about burglary. We don’t say that even about homicide,” Foster said.
“It makes the person reporting go back to think like maybe I shouldn’t have reported. It makes them self-doubt again,” Gutierrez said.
Some may take a while to process the assault, especially if it happened when they were young.
“Sometimes that person who goes through that trauma is in denial and they maybe block it out of their life that this happened,” Gutierrez said.
Minnesota laws obligate mandates reporters to report the assault if the person is in a position of power or a relative to the victim.
“We take mandated reporting very seriously in Minnesota, a teacher definitely rises to what a mandated report would entail,” Foster said.
“Even though this happened to a person, now this person is also going to be held accountable and go through their own consequences having done this as well,” Gutierrez said.
When supporting survivors, experts say it’s pretty simple.
“You believe and say that this wasn’t their fault,” Foster said.
To get connected with sexual assault victim resources in your community, click here.
Copyright 2022 KTTC. All rights reserved.