15 tips for victims on how to deal with sexual assault, abuse and harassment in the West

15 tips for victims on how to deal with sexual assault

It is estimated that one in three women will be raped in her lifetime and that one in seven boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. (the Wisconsin (U.S.A.) Coalition Against Sexual Assault)

Sexual assault, harassment and abuse are crimes which are abhorrent and unacceptable. They are often perpetrated in the privacy of homes or are committed by those whom people may be close to or trust. This makes it not only unacceptable, but shameful as well.

Victims of sexual assault, abuse and harassment often prefer to keep their victimization hidden, fearing blame. But if you are a victim, this is a danger to yourself and to others too, who may become the next victims of the sexual harasser and/or abuser. Here are some things you can do to break the wall of silence and start the healing:

1. Know what sexual assault, abuse and harassment are

Sexual harassment is sexual behavior that is unwanted. Often the harasser is someone in a position of formal authority, but harassment occurs between co-workers or peers as well. Men are sometimes harassed, but most victims of harassment are women. The harasser is almost always male.

Examples of sexual harassment include suggestive comments, pressure for sexual contact, demands for sex in return for a job or other benefit, sexual jokes.

Sexual assault is an attack of a sexual nature, which includes sexual touching or rape.

Sexual abuse is essentially sexual assault but over a prolonged period of time. Incest, or sexual relations between family members like parents and children, or brothers and sisters, is an example of sexual abuse. But sexual abuse can occur outside of the family too.

2. Get medical treatment if you are sexually assaulted or hurt

If you are injured after an attack or sexually assaulted, go to the doctor and get medical treatment as soon as possible. You do not have to tell anyone who caused the injury, but it is better for your treatment if you tell the doctor exactly what happened.

In the case of rape, a medical examination is important to detect injury and for possible protection against a sexually transmitted disease or pregnancy.

3. Know you are not alone and you are not to blame

In the United States, a child is sexually abused every two minutes, according to Senator Christopher Dodd founder of Children's Caucus.

Sexual harassment, assault and abuse are not uncommon and you are not alone. There are others who have suffered in a similar way. It is also important to remember that no one has the right to sexually assault, attack, harass or abuse another person. Islam, in particular, is very strong in its condemnation of this behavior, and requires both Muslim men and women to behave in a respectful and modest way with the opposite sex (see Quran 24:30-31).

4. Tell someone trustworthy about it

Telling someone else about your experience is a way of getting help. If you have been keeping it hidden inside of you because of shame and fear, it's time to break this wall. Confide in someone you can trust. This can be an Imam, it could be a close family member or a good friend. Telling someone is a way for you to heal and a a step towards doing something about the issue.

5. Consider telling the police about it

If you do this, you don't have to press charges, but you may save someone else from being similarly attacked or abused if police know who your perpetrator was.

6. Keep the following documents with you

If you are being sexually abused and you are still living with your abuser, you must get out of there immediately. You may not feel strong enough to do this right away, but it is a step you must consider. Taking this into consideration, it is a good idea to keep some important documents with you when you choose to leave.

These documents include a birth certificate, passport, citizenship papers, immigration papers, health card, social insurance card, the abuser's social insurance number, money and credit cards, checkbook, bankbook, savings bonds, personal telephone and address book, medicine, house keys, drivers license and car keys, clothing for a few days and valuable jewelry. If you have been thinking of leaving the home to escape violence for a while, start collecting these things.

7. If you are under 18 and living with a sexual abuser...

then you can leave more easily and must do so immediately. You may first want to work out a protection plan (see below) with the person you have confided in, a friend, relative, Imam, and may even be able to escape to your confidant's home. Or you may seek help at a local youth shelter.

8. Establish a protection plan

A protection plan is a plan of where you will go to escape from the abuse in the home.

These are the elements of a protection plan:

  • Be aware of when the abuse happens and how often.
  • Decide on some safe place you can go to. This might include the mosque, another home, relatives, friends, hotel, a crisis shelter, or another place in which you feel safe.
  • Decide how you will get there. Keep some money and a set of extra keys with you and some with your family and/or friends, so you can leave by taxi. This way, even if you don't have money, you can quickly escape to the friend's house by taxi when you feel an attack is imminent. You might arrange with friends, neighbors or relatives that they will come and pick you up when you feel it is necessary.
  • Make sure you know where the nearest public phone is and try to memorize the number of the local youth shelter and know what to take when you leave.

9. Know these telephone numbers

The first few pages of a telephone book list numbers of police and other emergency services. Know these numbers by heart. Also, gather information such as the addresses and telephone numbers of people who can help.

10. Notice your feelings

After a sexual assault, you may feel shock, embarrassment, shame, guilt, disbelief, anger, anxiety or nothing at all. These are all normal reactions to a violent crime. Similarly, sometimes months or even years after an assault, survivors reexperience feelings they had immediately following the attack. This is why it's a good idea to consider the next tip.

11. Get counseling

Don't try to heal alone. There are professionals trained to help those who have been abused and assaulted. A local crisis or women's shelter, sexual assault hotlines, and professionals like counselors are better able to help you work through your pain. You are not abnormal, you are simply getting proper assistance from someone who knows how to help you deal with this emotionally and psychologically.

12. For more information go to these places

Women's shelters, police, crown attorney's office-they all have a department dealing with this. You can also check hospitals, multicultural associations, women's centers, a local YWCA, telephone crisis lines, the Public Legal Education and Information Association (in Canada), lawyer referral services, legal aid offices, doctors or public health nurses, social workers, mosques, Islamic centers, Islamic Social Services Association of the United States and Canada (ISSA) or regional Islamic social services.

13. You could get compensation for this crime

You may be eligible for compensation of medical costs or losses incurred as a result of a sexual assault. To receive assistance, you must report the assault to law enforcement personnel within 48 hours and you must file a claim within one year. Call a local Sexual Assault Crisis Center for more information.

14. Find a longer term safe place

Where is the safest place you can stay for a while? It could be family, or a fellow Muslim sister who can open her doors for you. Look for those people who can be sympathetic.

15. Put your trust in Allah and seek strength from Him

Ask Allah's help regularly. He is the source of strength and guidance, and can and will, Insha Allah, help you get through this. Turn to Him regularly in prayer and supplication when you feel overwhelmed with this situation or any other difficulty.

Comments

I was sexually abused by my sister and i’ve endured YEARS of mental and physical abuse from her and my father who I no longer see. I still have to live with my sister even though she’s old enough to move out and I have told my mom about these things but she just tells me she can’t kick one of her kids out. I’m so angered and upset by this because I can’t leave because of chronic health issues that i have and my mom is the one who helps care for me because of them but it’s driving me crazy to have to stay with my sister and I don’t know what to do

I am a 17 year old girl, a high school student. On the 17th this week, that is 17th June 2018. I was sexually assaulted. My family and i were at a water park... in the swimming pool, my sister and I were watching the stage as a group of dancers performed, my sister was busy playing with her daughter, and i distracted by the dancers... a man, who smelled of booze, a drunk i assumed at that time, passed by me, the water's length was to my waist... he passed by very slowly while moving his hands outwards.. when he reached me, his hand went towards my butt, he patted it at first, and my body froze, he then proceeded with playing with it in a way that i cannot exactly describe, i turned to him shocked by his actions, his eyes were bloodshot red,his face surprised as he started walking away from me... i started to scream, flapped my hands around, hitting continuously, suddenly i was out of strength that's when i screamed at my sister "This guy groped my ass!!!"
she turned throwing her daughter at me followed the guy i was pointing at and attacked him, she slapped him continuously, and because of the rings she had on, his lip was bleeding, the amount of eyes that stared at me at that time made me want to run. My sister got out of the water and ran to my family, as for me?... i got out of the water with my niece in hand and waited for my family as i watched the guy while screaming " I'm not going to let this go"... a lifeguard approached me and grabbed my arm, he was hurting me, and even he smelt of booze, i told him to let me go, but he was just telling me that the man who sexually assaulted me said he didnt do anything so i should let this go. but i know what he did to me. my family approached and when i saw my brothers, i broke down.... i pointed to the man as tears streamed down my face, my brother from anger punched the guy in the face as my other brother body slammed him to the concrete floor. Crowds formed and the amount of pity looks i received are enough to fill me a glass of water for another 100 years. my eldest sister held me and just let me cry in her arms.
when i got better, the head of security approached and told me to just let it go,because it would end the same way at the police station, with him asking for forgiveness. i looked at my father and alll he could say was "yeah, just let it go"... i was hurt by this.. but i just let it go... even though i didnt want to. i grabbed my novel and was quiet for a while... my mother then came to whisper in my ear "stop ruining everyone's moods"... my heart shattered, all i could do was be silent.... later on, when we were in the car...my father told me "are you still depressed?!" in a mocking manner....
when we were home... i went to my sister.. the one who slapped the abuser, i asked her to hold me...because i could still feel the man's hands on me... and she said "why are you exaggerating ?"
my mother approached and she started shouting " why the hell are you being so dramatic? stop exaggerating! it could've been worse you know! "
all i wanted was to be held... for someone to let me cry in their arms... was i really exaggerating?.... i feel like filth... like nobody deserves to be with me or touch me.. yes others went through worse, but they are OTHERS, and I am the one who went through this, i am the one who is traumatized, aren't i?, so am i exaggerating? ... yes i am thankful for the physical punishment he received... but dont i have the right to feel as if it's not enough... i believe they are others.. that he has done this before.

Location

in the middle of nowhere

i have been sexually abused by my brother since i was 5.at the time i didnt know that he is abusing me because he is my brother and i trusted him.now im almost 13 and i told my mum about it and it stopped for awhile and now its going on again.what should i do? :(

No baby :(( youre so young you deserve the best in life, i would say speak to your mother again. Stress to her that it is starting to happen again, and gather information on the abuse. Keep track of the times, days, try to find a pattern, gather evidence so that hopefully you can make a good case. I think this is the toughest but also the best option, by filing a case you can prevent your abuser from harming others. I hope all goes well for you, ill keep you in my thoughts. Love you <3

www.garbo.io is the first searchable database for women to discover men accused of sexual harassment. It is still being developed right now, but they're really going to make it so women can search a person's name before a date, a job interview, or whatever else and see if they've been accused of sexual harassment.

www.garbo.io is the website

Location

new york

I was sexually harrassed by my father, and my cousin, who is more than 20 years older.
My father treats me well and all. However, this is nothing infront of sexual abuse!
It's not to 'be paid' for!
I have felt vulnerable and 'deserving' of this a lot, as this is how I was raised. I built walls of shame. Walls that told me I was always at fault. I was always the wrong one, and I was always the 'crazy' one.
Bir alwalidein doesn't apply to sexual abusers does it?

Because I'm not doing it.

My mother is a narcissist who, if I told her, would blame me, and most probably give me the cold shoulder for months. She'll probably tell my father, and together they will try to shame me into keeping quiet. Telling me I destroyed their reputation.

Gladly.

If I could, I'd destroy them too.

On the day of judgement, in front of Allah, every one of you who reads this comment testifies as witness to my struggle. Even if I was offered the best of best, I would still choose hell for them.

Every action must have a consequence.

Location

Qatar

Dear Yusra,
I am very sorry of what have been done to you, it is not fair at all.
Please, what can i do to help you to get out of those abuses. is there anything i can do?, if so, please let me know.

be optimist and you will be fine.

Mohd alsharif

Location

Paris

May Allah Make you stronger and help you get out of this situation as soon as possible. I wish I had the power to be there for you and help guide you but you have the best in your life when you keep turning to Allah.

Location

Canada

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