Your Silence was his Greatest Asset
Around the world, in every country, violence against women is a problem. It is one of the most common violations of human rights. Women’s rights are taken away when they suffer physical, sexual and economic abuse. Women and girls of all ages and races are affected. It doesn’t matter their culture or religion, women have rights too. Around the world there are many different types of abuse. The differences come from different societies, religions and cultures. The most common form of violence around the world is domestic and sexual violence. It then turns into harmful or deadly abuse. Femicide needs to end.
One of the most difficult things for a victim of sexual assault to do is to talk about an attack. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, I urge you to speak out about it. Talk to someone. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to family or friends
Talking about your sexual assault is the hardest thing. But your healing begins when you speak. Healing is a process, it’s not immediate, but that process only begins when you talk about what’s been done to you. Don’t hold that in. If your assailant is a family member, it will be even harder to speak out.
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Responding When Students Disclose Abuse
Given the high rate of all forms of violence perpetrated against children and teens, there will be victims, perpetrators, and witnesses of violence among any group of students. Some students may feel ready to speak out. Others may not feel safe disclosing their experiences, yet give clues. They may talk about “a friend” who was victimized or ask a question about a hypothetical situation. Others may be visibly troubled, yet remain silent, leave suddenly, or linger after class. It is not uncommon for a student to blurt out something very revealing, then say nothing for days. It is important you anticipate these situations and feel ready to address them.
Prior to presenting on any topic, list the names and phone numbers of resources within your community. These services may include a school guidance counselor, domestic violence/sexual assault program, mental health agency, and/or drug and alcohol center.
Allow students to write questions you can answer privately (if they leave their name) or in front of the class (if anonymous). Let students know resources available to them. Make yourself available to take questions or talk privately with students.
Have information available about teen safety plans.
Things to remember when working with survivors or their loved ones:
• Believe. Statistics indicate that most people coming forward to disclose abuse are telling the truth. In fact, it is more likely that students will lie about, minimize, or deny abuse. Telling students you believe them establishes you as a safe point of contact.
• Listen. Allow students to disclose on their own timeframe. Asking questions is the knee-jerk reaction to hearing a disclosure. Listening more and talking less allows students to process their feelings and work through their experience.
• Empower. Give students the resources and tools necessary to heal from their experience. Allow them to make decisions about their next steps.
• Know your limits. You cannot promise students that their situation will “be ok.” You cannot fix it for them. You cannot be there with them every second of every day. Allow yourself to express your limits (time, energy, knowledge, ability).