Someone you know has been raped

Author: Women's Health Victoria

Tags: Family & Friends

This article is written for women and assumes a male offender, however SECASA acknowledges that both men and women can be survivors of sexual abuse and that offenders can be male and female.

  • Think of HER FIRST.
  • LISTEN to her. Help her to work out what SHE WANTS.
  • RESPECT her feelings.
  • TRUST what she tells you is true.
  • DO NOT PRESSURE HER into doing anything she does not want to do.
  • You may be feeling angry, hurt or sad, but at this time SHE'S THE ONE WHO NEEDS SUPPORT most of all.
  • DO NOT say things like: "Why didn't you try to get away." "Why didn't you scream?" "You must have led him on." "What can you expect, wearing clothes like that. "I told you not to ..."
  • Make yourself familiar with the information in this booklet, it may help you to understand her situation.

Social implications

Women are brought up from an early age not to fight, to have no confidence in our physical strength. Feelings of inferiority, worthlessness and a need to please and to put others always before ourselves, combine to make many women powerless in an attack. There are many other reasons why a woman may not fight back, for example, the man may threaten her with a gun or a knife, or she may be paralysed by fear. In some situations it is not realistic to fight back and may be dangerous.

However, in many cases men who rape women are not unusually strong or violent. They expect women to be weak and not to resist, so, when a woman fights back she has the element of surprise on her side.

Things YOU CAN Do

Prevention of rape is not the responsibility of women. However, women can take action against rape in many ways. Many of the things we can do will benefit our lives in other ways as well.

Start saying NO to minor forms of harassment or abuse.

In some circumstances, you can take legal action against sexual harassment which is not of a criminal kind, eg. an employer who repeatedly pesters you to go out with him. Seek advice from the Office of the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity, in your state or the Australian Human Rights Commission Phone: 02 9284 9600, Complaints: 1300 656 419.

Being more aware of how women are seen and treated generally in society helps our understanding of rape and our ability to do something about it. Think about the myths and realities of rape, and about the ways in which women are put down, used as sexual objects and abused in society, for example advertising, the media, pornography. Share your ideas and experiences with other women (friends, family or co-workers).

Try to be more aware of the possibility of harassment or attack in your own home, on the street, at work, hitchhiking, on public transport. Make your home as secure as possible and take reasonable precautions for your own safety but don't try to live by a long list of do's and don'ts which limit where you go, how you dress, etc. This is not a guarantee against rape and serves only to fill our lives with restrictions and fear.

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