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 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? :(

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 horrified to hear what happened to you and I cannot imagine the pain and suffering you have been through and I hope you get help with your situation and things improve. However, correct me if I’m wrong, stating that anyone who reads this message should go to hell is not the answer, don’t take your paIn out on them. If your talking about those who hurt you then I’m sure Allah will know what’s best. It is not right to speak for Allah as he is the greatest.

Location

France

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

Now is time to focus on you. You can see if you are carrying the past by thinking back on the event(s). If thinking back causes any type of physical reaction, such as tightness anywhere in the body, this may over time manifest itself in illness. So try to get rid of the physical reactions by prayers, thikrs, deep breathing, etc. and work on getting rid of the hatred or other ill feeling by imaging yourself turning it over to Allah. (Imagine yourself doing that, in whatever way you are comfortable). You can punish your own self by carrying the pain of past wrongs and not releasing them.

I am sorry it happened to you. I wish there was something I could do to make it easier for you Yusra. Every action has their consequence and that barbaric excuse of a human will get what he deserves, In shaa Allah.

Location

Sweden

When I was younger I was sexually harassed by one of my uncle and if I'm being totally honest, this is the first time I've actually ever shared this with anyone. It's easier for me to say this to complete strangers on the internet than to tell this to someone I know. Honestly if I feel like I will ruin the family because he is married my aunt and they have two kids together, I don't want to ruin their lives. It's like I can't trust anybody, no one will understand, and I have withdrew from a lot of people. I remember when I was in 5 th grade, I was in my mom's room by myself and he came in and just held my arms down and hovered above me on the floor and I couldn't get up, plus probably a couple days earlier he cam to my house to drop off his kids because their good friends with my brother, and he inappropriately touched me, actually it was kind of just a graze. Then there was another time, since he used to always come over to the house, I was by myself and he would sit on the couch with me and just rub my back, and I know that doesn't seem that bad, but it made me feel really uncomfortable. And this other time he was saying goodbye and he went for a hug and reached down my pants and gripped my butt. Till this day I have never told anyone and I don't know if I can even tell anyone anymore because it's all stopped. I still see him around and try to avoid him at all costs but it's hard. I really just need some advice so please help.

I just wanted to thank you so much for sharing this. I know it must have been hard for you to do. I have been sexually harassed by my brother. He has groped me before, intentionally gotten naked in front of me, and hit me on the butt more times than I can count. I want to get away from him, but I don't see how I can, at least not in the near future, anyway. Because he is related to me and also younger than me, I don't think anyone would believe me if I told them. There have been many times where he harassed me in public and no one has done anything about it, they'd rather just mind their own business and would go out of their way not to acknowledge it. I'm angry at my brother and I don't feel safe or comfortable when I'm around him. I feel as if there's no one I can talk to about what he's done. I've wanted to cry about it for some time, because I feel like if I cried, then at least I'd be expressing my emotions in some way, but for some reason I just couldn't ever make the tears come out. When I read your comment, I finally cried a little and that made me feel relived in that moment. So, thank you so much for helping me cry about this. I wish you all the best in life.

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