A person is sexually assaulted every 68 seconds in the United States.

Sexual assault is unfortunately a very prominent issue in society that affects millions each year. During the month of April, people across the nation come together to bring awareness, provide support, and educate others about sexual assault. The term ‘sexual assault” is a broad term that encompasses a number of different crimes involving unwanted sexual contact with another individual. Here, we will explore some important matters concerning sexual assault that people should be aware of. 

Warnings Signs

There is a certain stigma around the topic of sexual assault that can make it difficult for survivors to speak about the topic. This stigma, coupled with the emotional trauma associated with the assault can make it difficult for survivors to reach out and seek support. Therefore, as friends and family, we have a responsibility to look for relevant warning signs that may signal that an individual has been sexually assaulted. Some signs include but are not limited to:

  • Mood swings
  • anxiety
  • Increase in use of alcohol or drugs
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression or suicidal thoughts
  • Self-harm 
  • Avoiding specific places or people

How You Can Provide Support

Knowing what to do or what to say to a survivor of sexual assault can be difficult. Most importantly, you will want to create a supportive environment and let the survivor know that you are there for them. You will want to avoid judgment, listen intently, and share words of affirmation. Let them know that you believe them, that their feelings are valid, and that they are not at fault for what happened. Knowing that they have someone who supports them by their side, can make a significant difference in their healing journey.

How To Cope As A Survivor

If you have been sexually assaulted, there are some important steps you can take to help cope with and heal from the traumatic event. First, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-656-4673 to speak with a third-party, trained individual who can provide you with confidential support and care. You may also want to consider getting help from a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or therapist, who can provide you with healthy coping mechanisms and create a safe space to share your emotions.

Impact Of False Accusations

While less commonly discussed, it is important to consider how those who have been falsely accused of sexual assault may be feeling. A false accusation can be incredibly debilitating and can greatly impact your mental health. While a qualified criminal defense lawyer can help you with the legalities of the situation, a therapist may also be a worthwhile investment for those who have been falsely accused. 

Spread Awareness

We all play an important role in spreading awareness about sexual assault not only in April but every day. By having conversations about this topic, we can help educate others and hopefully reduce the prominence of sexual assault across the world.