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.


Hello. I just want to let you know, that I read your message. What happened to you is awful. I send you my thoughts - i know how you feel, and you are not alone about those feelings.



I don’t know who you are but I just wanna say that I am in the exact the same situation as you, reading this made me belive it was about myself. I was too sexually harassed by my uncle and i also don’t want to ruin the daily by telling.

One day I was walking in the streets in Ukraine and one boy (16 years) came and pulled me against the wall. I could see what his intentions were so I screamed and hit him with all that O had. I didn't told anyone because it's embarrassing and I understand what you mean, but maybe you could talk to a teacher in school that you trust 😘❤️ I know told my older cousin (19 years old) know I feel more alegre and protected

The same thing happened to me but I knew it was happening and pretended to be asleep because I was so scared, this happened over 4 times and then stopped and I feel I can’t tell anyone because of the same reason and I can feel it affecting my life because it’s always in the back of my head 5 years later. It has made me uncomfortable with affection and an overall awkward person. I try to blame it on different things but I know it’s because of this. I have never told anyone and I don’t plan on telling anyone soon. It’s weird though because I see the news and all these things in the media telling you your not alone but I’m still affraid as it was a member of my family who did this to me. I’m 15 and have been dealing with this for a while and it makes me feel a little better that I can be anonymous and say this . As I type that though I doubt if I should even reply I also do still see the person, quite frequently as well and I get scared every time I see him.

i just want to say your story definitely helped me. I was living with my mom’s boyfriend and her and at night when I was supposed to be asleep he would come in and pull my shirt down and touch me. He did this several times and I wouldn’t know because at times I was asleep and I would wake up and he’d be walking out of my room. One day I decided to tell my grandpa because my little sister was sleeping at that house and I was scared. By the next day everyone in my family knew, we “talked” about it, they put a lock on my door and I still had to keep living here. That happened 2 years ago and I still cry everyday thinking why no one helped me get out of this situation, I always question my worth because it makes me sad to think that nobody in my family cared enough, and it hurts more because they told me I should’ve told them sooner, when the only reason I didn’t was because I wanted to protect them, I didn’t want to ruin anything. I’m 16 now and I’ll I’m waiting forward to is to turn 18 so I can get out of here because as of right now I feel trapped, I can’t even get out of my room because I hate seeing him. And up until this day when we are in the same place together I catch him staring at me and I don’t even want to do anything about it anymore because I know no one will help

The act that was committed was wrong. The only way to prevent the predator from hurting any other young girl is to stop him in his tracks by exposing him. Don't worry about how the family feels, worry about how you feel. Free yourself and the rest will follow...................................

I don't know what to do, my brother that is 15 almost 16 wanted to sleep with me. I didn't want to be mean because he has depression and the doctors think there is something wrong with him. But i let him and he kept getting closer to me and he kept getting right up on me. I tried to scoot away but then he put his arm on me and put his hand in my bra. I didn't know he put his hand in my bra til i woke up though. I didn't know if it was a mistake, I thought he didn't mean to do it so to move his hand out of my bra i drank some water which made his hand move. But then right when I laid back down he put his arm back around me and immediately put his hand in my bra and started to touch my boob. He started squeezing it and i was shocked. I couldn't believe what was going on. So I pretended to cough and went to my moms room because I had a "sort throuit" and I just asked if she can get me medicine and I ended up sleeping with my mom. This happened last night and I don't know what to do.



I am a survivor of family sexual abuse. What starts off as slow attempts to touch can escalate very quickly into rape. You must confide in someone trustworthy either a parent or close relative or school counselor, or someone at your mosque. You must protect yourself. You are worried that your brother has a problem, but you could end up with a much bigger problem if he takes it out on you. I hope you are okay since your post was six months ago. You have every right to tell him that you do not want him to touch you.



I've had a friend of mine grab my boob without permission too. Your situation is bigger though because he is your brother. You need to tell him to stop, and tell an adult. It's good for him to get help with his depression, but you do not need to let him do this to you. In the end the best advice I can give you is to tell a trusted adult. I'm sorry if this doesn't help, but I hope he stops.

I have been sexually abused twice by my best friends father, he always used to make sexual comments but mostly when he was drunk i tried to stay as far away from him as possible when he had something to drink but noticed that it wasn't just when he was drunk, he'd also do it when his friends were around and they would all do it i haven't told anyone because i am afraid it will break our friendship the thing is that i want to tell my boyfriend but i am afraid of how he'll react to this, i see this man everyday and i don't know how to act when his around i want to get medical help but i am afraid .. please help




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