Surviving Sexual Abuse: Getting Yourself Beyond the Insensitive Comments


Sexual abuse ­­­is all too real. While many may be fortunate enough to think they have no connection to sexual abuse, the statistics show that even if we have not directly experienced sexual abuse, someone who we are close to has.

If you or someone you know has gone through the trauma of sexual abuse, then this research is a great step for you to take in your recovery.

It is important to remember you are not alone in dealing with this tumultuous issue.

After all, there are over 200,000 reported sexual assault victims per year within the United States. These statistics do not cover all of the sexual assaults, so one can imagine how prevalent this issue truly is.

Learning to live with a troublesome past is arduous and quite the painstaking process; however, it is possible to continue life as a sexual assault victim. One of the most difficult obstacles to overcome are the insensitive comments made by others. Whether those around you know it or not, some of their questions or comments about the assault may hurt your feelings.

We have gathered a list of the commonly asked questions that may offend a sexual assault victim. Whether you are the victim, or a friend looking to lessen the pain someone close to you feels, understanding these questions and their impact will help sexual assault victims greatly.

Here is our list of insensitive comments made to assault victims:

1. Why Aren’t You Over it Yet?

victimFor some reason or another, many commonly assume that time heals all wounds. However, we are here to say that it does not. What may have occurred years ago can still bring about a pain that aches, regardless of the time that has passed.

Sexual assault is a traumatic, devastating event. Similarly to someone needing time to grieve over the loss of a loved one, we require time to accept this violation. Sexual assault victims need time to acknowledge, to heal, and to grow.

Most importantly is the fact that no one other than the victim can determine this necessary time; we all move at our own pace, and no one has the right to rush it.

If you or a loved one finds yourself within the confines of this question, then you may want to consider this: educate the person on the other end of the conversation.

The person making this statement, hopefully, does not mean to sound ignorant. Instead, they may genuinely not understand what is taking so long.

You could always paraphrase for them that this event has made you or a loved one feel similarly to someone who has lost a loved one. The pain is devastating and will take time, which can only be determined by you, in order to heal.

Better yet, you or a loved one may hear this next question that will leave you gritting your teeth for quite some time

2. Did It Even Happen?

take a deep breathThat’s right. Some people will question whether or not the event actually occurred. Unfortunately for us, we know all too well that this traumatic occurrence did indeed exist; however, some may pose the possibility of fictitious tales.

Those who pose this question may not even mean to imply that you are a downright charlatan. Instead, this person may be considering the possibility of trauma clouding your mind.

We highly recommend you take a deep breath and not overreact when someone poses this question to you or your loved one. Remember that it has taken great courage to open up about your abuse, so you have conquered one of the most difficult tasks for a sexual abuse victim. Remind this person on the other end of the conversation of this fact. Perhaps they may think twice about their skepticism.

3. Why Do You Keep Bringing It Up?

The concept of hiding your emotions is a dangerous one. Some people may ask you why you continue to talk about your misfortunate experience, but what they do not understand is that communicating is part of the healing process.

sexual abuse victimWithout these discussions, we cannot possibly find solace. Suppressing emotions is never the answer.

If someone is asking you or a loved one why you keep bringing up your experience with sexual abuse, then we advise you to reflect inwardly about this person. Why are they asking you this question?

Do they seem agitated that they have to hear about the event again? If this is the case, then seriously evaluate your relationship with this person. A true friend will listen without the constant questions, judgments, or reservations.

A true friend, whether you are searching for one or trying to be one, is most importantly a great listener. If you are a sexual abuse victim then it is important to surround yourself with quality listeners. While it is natural for anyone to have questions, only the true friends will screen their appropriate and sensitive questions.

4. I Can’t Imagine What You’re Going Through

The natural reaction we sometimes find ourselves having when trying to alleviate others is to say, “Wow. I can’t imagine what you are going through right now.”

However, have you ever really thought about the connotation of this statement? To say that you could not deal with something like this implies that you are thankful it has not happened to you.

explaining the painMore than likely, anyone saying this to you has the best intentions. It can be very difficult to think of the right thing to say to someone you love when they are in their darkest hour. However, you need to know that this is definitely not a phrase you want to find yourself saying.

If you are at the receiving end of this remark, then try to remember that this person means well, or so we hope. This comment is probably best left alone, as explaining the pain it causes may in turn result in the other person feeling badly. It is important to surround yourself with solid, genuine people. If they accidentally allow this phrase to slip, then it may just be the best thing to try and remember that they mean well.

There are a few phrases, however, that are simply unforgiveable, such as this next one.

5. It’s So Typical of a Man to Do This. It’s How They All Act

No, no and NO. To say that the perpetrator is simply a man degrades the entire male population. The true statement is that a real man would never rape a woman.

While we do not necessarily promote that you become more upset, we do condone you speak up for yourself and protect the reputation of men on this one. Your perpetrator is not just any man. He is a sick, power hungry, manipulative man who will hopefully got what was coming to him.

No man is a victim of his sex drive. Instead, a man should make his own decisions and act on his moral compass, instead of on animal impulses.

6. Were You Drunk?

alcoholAh, alcohol, the typical scapegoat for most rapes. Prepare yourself for this question, as many people ask sexual abuse victims about their alcoholic intake.

As sad as it is, many people assume that you or your loved one put yourselves in this situation by consuming too much alcohol.

Remind the person asking you this that alcohol content level has nothing to do with the crime. Everyone has the right to drink and not worry about his or her safety. The fact that someone took advantage of another’s physical state is absolutely repulsive.

If another crime were to occur in a drunken state, such as first-degree murder, would that automatically make it acceptable? Of course not.

Perhaps you can squash this question with a simple, “I didn’t have anything to drink.” The connection between alcohol levels and rape may not be as closely linked as we once thought, and there is always the possibility of a date rape drug.

Either way, even if alcohol was involved voluntarily, it does not placate the occurrence of the rape. Nothing makes rape okay; not drunkenness, or even the lack of clothing.

7. What Were You Wearing? Were You Inviting Sexual Attention?

Sexual AttentionWomen can stereotypically be coined as, “Asking for it” due to their apparel. However, this question is absolutely ludicrous. Besides the fact that many rapes are unwanted or unprovoked, clothing has little to nothing to do with the probability of being raped.

Even if it were date rape, a woman is allowed to dress however she chooses on a date. A man does not have the right to sexually violate a woman simply by the way she dresses. Feel free to remind anyone who asks this question of this powerful statement.

Think about this: every year, thousands of children are reportedly raped within the United States. Does it matter what they are wearing?

No, because a perpetrator will carry through with their crime regardless of the clothing.

If you or a loved one find yourself suffering from the effects of sexual abuse, then know that you are not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people suffer, and many do so silently.

Opening up about sexual abuse is extremely difficult, mostly because of the questions that tend to follow.

Were you drinking? Well, what were you wearing? Did you flirt with him? We find ourselves bombarded with these questions, so learning to expect them and knowing how to cope with them is essential towards your healthy recovery.

Everyone deserves to live a happy, healthy life, so educate yourself about how to help yourself or your loved one grow beyond their sexual abuse. Learn the questions to ask, as well as the questions to avoid, and always remember that the best thing you can do is listen. Learn to use these questions as a teachable moment, and stay calm.


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