There is a very big difference between mutually consensual sex and being raped. Rape uses sex as a vehicle for gaining power and control with force, fear, or violence, making the survivor fearful for his/her safety or life. In some situations the rape occurs when the survivor is intoxicated or unconscious and unable to give consent.
When the rape is done by someone who was trusted such as a friend or relative, your lover may feel betrayed. If the rape was done when the survivor was a virgin, the survivor might confuse being raped with having had sex. In this case it is important for the survivor to take the time necessary to feel safe in the relationship and never feel forced to go further than feels comfortable.
If the lover who was raped was man, understand that few people understand that this is even possible. However, 10% of all victims are male. Male survivors may blame themselves for the assault becoming confused by the fact that they became physically aroused during the attack, despite the assault they endured. These are normal physiological responses that in no way imply that the victim “wanted” or “liked” the assault.
Many men who have been assaulted by other men have a fear that they may have become gay. Add on top of that the fact that men are socially developed to believe that they ought to be immune to rape. These beliefs keep the male victim more isolated.
Many people find that their story has not been believed, especially children. The result is that they find it difficult to talk to anyone about the assault having developed a general lack of trust. For this reason don’t take this as your not being “trustworthy,” instead be patient and gently let the survivor know that you are available to talk if so desired. Also note that many times a victim was told by the rapist to never tell anyone, so there is much fear over speaking about the rape.
The most important thing is to allow the survivor to stay in control, allowing them to take back the control that they lost during the assault. Never betraying their trust in you. Listen to what they are saying with compassion and realize that people rarely lie about rape or sexual abuse. Allow the feelings to come out as they need to, including crying if that is part of the survivors response.
If the abuser is alive sometimes lovers want to confront them. Please refrain from doing this because it is really up to your lover to make the decision whether to place legal charges against the rapist.
If the rape was more recent your lover may pull back from you and other times may want you for comfort. It will take the time it takes for the survivor to sort through the feelings involved. Remember that you are not trained in how to handle such a trauma so suggest that your lover reach out for professional help to have an appropriate place to process what happened.
A great place to start is The National Sexual Assault Hotline which is available 24/7 at 1-800-656-HOPE and online at: https://ohl.rainn.org/online/ . There is much information on the RAINN website about how to deal with this issue as well as how to prevent rape from happening.
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