Signs of an Abusive Relationship

Many victims of rape (ok maybe not many, but definitely I), have struggled with relationships and finding a healthy relationship with healthy boundaries. I have noticed the problems within my own life in the last few days and have had much anxiety about all of it. I told a friend that I would look into abusive relationships. This happened to be shared by a friend a few months before. I thought I would share it here. (And again, I wish I knew who wrote this, as it has helped me tremendously tonight).

And here are charts that I found that seem to simplify what this article has written – labmf.org/facts/relationships

There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner—constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up—chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive. Other signs that you may be in an abusive relationship include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, and feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation.

To determine whether your relationship is abusive, answer the questions below. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you’re in an abusive relationship.

SIGNS THAT YOU’RE IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP

Your Inner Thoughts and Feelings
Your Partner’s Belittling Behavior

Do you:

  • feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
  • avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
  • feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
  • believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
  • wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
  • feel emotionally numb or helpless?

Does your partner:

  • humiliate or yell at you?
  • criticize you and put you down?
  • treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
  • ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
  • blame you for his own abusive behavior?
  • see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?

Your Partner’s Violent Behavior or Threats
Your Partner’s Controlling Behavior

Does your partner:

  • have a bad and unpredictable temper?
  • hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
  • threaten to take your children away or harm them?
  • threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
  • force you to have sex?
  • destroy your belongings?

Does your partner:

  • act excessively jealous and possessive?
  • control where you go or what you do?
  • keep you from seeing your friends or family?
  • limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
  • constantly check up on you?

Physical abuse and domestic violence

When people talk about domestic violence, they are often referring to the physical abuse of a spouse or intimate partner. Physical abuse is the use of physical force against someone in a way that injures or endangers that person. Physical assault or battering is a crime, whether it occurs inside or outside of the family. The police have the power and authority to protect you from physical attack.

Sexual abuse is a form of physical abuse

Any situation in which you are forced to participate in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity is sexual abuse. Forced sex, even by a spouse or intimate partner with whom you also have consensual sex, is an act of aggression and violence. Furthermore, people whose partners abuse them physically and sexually are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed.

It Is Still Abuse If . . .

  • The incidents of physical abuse seem minor when compared to those you have read about, seen on television or heard other women talk about. There isn’t a “better” or “worse” form of physical abuse; you can be severely injured as a result of being pushed, for example.
  • The incidents of physical abuse have only occurred one or two times in the relationship. Studies indicate that if your spouse/partner has injured you once, it is likely he will continue to physically assault you.
  • The physical assaults stopped when you became passive and gave up your right to express yourself as you desire, to move about freely and see others, and to make decisions. It is not a victory if you have to give up your rights as a person and a partner in exchange for not being assaulted!
  • There has not been any physical violence. Many women are emotionally and verbally assaulted. This can be as equally frightening and is often more confusing to try to understand.

Source: Breaking the Silence: a Handbook for Victims of Violence in Nebraska (PDF)

Emotional abuse: It’s a bigger problem than you think

When people think of domestic abuse, they often picture battered women who have been physically assaulted. But not all abusive relationships involve violence. Just because you’re not battered and bruised doesn’t mean you’re not being abused. Many men and women suffer from emotional abuse, which is no less destructive. Unfortunately, emotional abuse is often minimized or overlooked—even by the person being abused.

Understanding emotional abuse

The aim of emotional abuse is to chip away at your feelings of self-worth and independence. If you’re the victim of emotional abuse, you may feel that there is no way out of the relationship or that without your abusive partner you have nothing.

Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming, and shaming. Isolation, intimidation, and controlling behavior also fall under emotional abuse. Additionally, abusers who use emotional or psychological abuse often throw in threats of physical violence or other repercussions if you don’t do what they want.

You may think that physical abuse is far worse than emotional abuse, since physical violence can send you to the hospital and leave you with scars. But, the scars of emotional abuse are very real, and they run deep. In fact, emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse—sometimes even more so.

Economic or financial abuse: A subtle form of emotional abuse

Remember, an abuser’s goal is to control you, and he or she will frequently use money to do so. Economic or financial abuse includes:

  • Rigidly controlling your finances.
  • Withholding money or credit cards.
  • Making you account for every penny you spend.
  • Withholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medications, shelter).
  • Restricting you to an allowance.
  • Preventing you from working or choosing your own career.
  • Sabotaging your job (making you miss work, calling constantly)
  • Stealing from you or taking your money.

Violent and abusive behavior is the abuser’s choice

Despite what many people believe, domestic violence and abuse is not due to the abuser’s loss of control over his or her behavior. In fact, abusive behavior and violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser in order to control you.

Abusers use a variety of tactics to manipulate you and exert their power:

  • Dominance – Abusive individuals need to feel in charge of the relationship. They will make decisions for you and the family, tell you what to do, and expect you to obey without question. Your abuser may treat you like a servant, child, or even as his or her possession.
  • Humiliation – An abuser will do everything he or she can to make you feel bad about yourself or defective in some way. After all, if you believe you’re worthless and that no one else will want you, you’re less likely to leave. Insults, name-calling, shaming, and public put-downs are all weapons of abuse designed to erode your self-esteem and make you feel powerless.
  • Isolation – In order to increase your dependence on him or her, an abusive partner will cut you off from the outside world. He or she may keep you from seeing family or friends, or even prevent you from going to work or school. You may have to ask permission to do anything, go anywhere, or see anyone.
  • Threats – Abusers commonly use threats to keep their partners from leaving or to scare them into dropping charges. Your abuser may threaten to hurt or kill you, your children, other family members, or even pets. He or she may also threaten to commit suicide, file false charges against you, or report you to child services.
  • Intimidation – Your abuser may use a variety of intimidation tactics designed to scare you into submission. Such tactics include making threatening looks or gestures, smashing things in front of you, destroying property, hurting your pets, or putting weapons on display. The clear message is that if you don’t obey, there will be violent consequences.
  • Denial and blame – Abusers are very good at making excuses for the inexcusable. They will blame their abusive and violent behavior on a bad childhood, a bad day, and even on the victims of their abuse. Your abusive partner may minimize the abuse or deny that it occurred. He or she will commonly shift the responsibility on to you: Somehow, his or her violent and abusive behavior is your fault.

Abusers are able to control their behavior—they do it all the time.

  • Abusers pick and choose whom to abuse. They don’t insult, threaten, or assault everyone in their life who gives them grief. Usually, they save their abuse for the people closest to them, the ones they claim to love.
  • Abusers carefully choose when and where to abuse. They control themselves until no one else is around to see their abusive behavior.
  • They may act like everything is fine in public, but lash out instantly as soon as you’re alone.
  • Abusers are able to stop their abusive behavior when it benefits them. Most abusers are not out of control. In fact, they’re able to immediately stop their abusive behavior when it’s to their advantage to do so (for example, when the police show up or their boss calls).
  • Violent abusers usually direct their blows where they won’t show. Rather than acting out in a mindless rage, many physically violent abusers carefully aim their kicks and punches where the bruises and marks won’t show.

The cycle of violence in domestic abuse

Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern, or cycle of violence:

  • Abuse – Your abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior. The abuse is a power play designed to show you “who is boss.”
  • Guilt – After abusing you, your partner feels guilt, but not over what he’s done. He’s more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences for his abusive behavior.
  • Excuses – Your abuser rationalizes what he or she has done. The person may come up with a string of excuses or blame you for the abusive behavior—anything to avoid taking responsibility.
  • “Normal” behavior — The abuser does everything he can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. He may act as if nothing has happened, or he may turn on the charm. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.
  • Fantasy and planning – Your abuser begins to fantasize about abusing you again. He spends a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how he’ll make you pay. Then he makes a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.
  • Set-up – Your abuser sets you up and puts his plan in motion, creating a situation where he can justify abusing you.

Your abuser’s apologies and loving gestures in between the episodes of abuse can make it difficult to leave. He may make you believe that you are the only person who can help him, that things will be different this time, and that he truly loves you. However, the dangers of staying are very real.

The Full Cycle of Domestic Violence: An Example

A man abuses his partner. After he hits her, he experiences self-directed guilt. He says, “I’m sorry for hurting you.” What he does not say is, “Because I might get caught.” He then rationalizes his behavior by saying that his partner is having an affair with someone. He tells her “If you weren’t such a worthless whore I wouldn’t have to hit you.” He then acts contrite, reassuring her that he will not hurt her again. He then fantasizes and reflects on past abuse and how he will hurt her again. He plans on telling her to go to the store to get some groceries. What he withholds from her is that she has a certain amount of time to do the shopping. When she is held up in traffic and is a few minutes late, he feels completely justified in assaulting her because “you’re having an affair with the store clerk.” He has just set her up.

Source: Mid-Valley Women’s Crisis Service

Recognizing the warning signs of domestic violence and abuse

It’s impossible to know with certainty what goes on behind closed doors, but there are some telltale signs and symptoms of emotional abuse and domestic violence. If you witness any warning signs of abuse in a friend, family member, or co-worker, take them very seriously.

General warning signs of domestic abuse

People who are being abused may:

  • Seem afraid or anxious to please their partner.
  • Go along with everything their partner says and does.
  • Check in often with their partner to report where they are and what they’re doing.
  • Receive frequent, harassing phone calls from their partner.
  • Talk about their partner’s temper, jealousy, or possessiveness.
  • Warning signs of physical violence

People who are being physically abused may:

  • Have frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents.”
  • Frequently miss work, school, or social occasions, without explanation.
  • Dress in clothing designed to hide bruises or scars (e.g. wearing long
  • sleeves in the summer or sunglasses indoors).
  • Warning signs of isolation

People who are being isolated by their abuser may:

  • Be restricted from seeing family and friends.
  • Rarely go out in public without their partner.
  • Have limited access to money, credit cards, or the car.
  • The psychological warning signs of abuse

People who are being abused may:

  • Have very low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident.
  • Show major personality changes (e.g. an outgoing person becomes withdrawn).
  • Be depressed, anxious, or suicidal.
  • Speak up if you suspect domestic violence or abuse

If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitating—telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it—keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his or her life.

Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

  • Ask if something is wrong.
  • Express concern.
  • Listen and validate.
  • Offer help.
  • Support his or her decisions.

Don’t:

  • Wait for him or her to come to you.
  • Judge or blame.
  • Pressure him or her.
  • Give advice.
  • Place conditions on your support.

Adapted from NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

Talk to the person in private and let him or her know that you’re concerned.
Point out the things you’ve noticed that make you worried. Tell the person that you’re there, whenever he or she feels ready to talk. Reassure the person that you’ll keep whatever is said between the two of you, and let him or her know that you’ll help in any way you can.

Remember, abusers are very good at controlling and manipulating their victims. People who have been emotionally abused or battered are depressed, drained, scared, ashamed, and confused. They need help to get out, yet they’ve often been isolated from their family and friends. By picking up on the warning signs and offering support, you can help them escape an abusive situation and begin healing.

Understanding domestic violence and abuse

  • In the U.S., call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).
  • UK: call Women’s Aid at 0808 2000 247.
  • Canada: National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-363-9010
  • Australia: National Domestic Violence Hotline 1800 200 526
  • Or visit International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies for a worldwide list of helplines, shelters, and crisis centers.

Male victims of abuse can call:

  • In the US, The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men & Women specializes in supporting male victims of abuse and offers a 24-hour helpline: 1-888-7HELPLINE (1-888-743-5754)
  • UK: ManKind Initiative offers a national helpline at 01823 334244.
  • Australia: One in Three Campaign offers help and resources for male victims.

Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence.

Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her thumb. Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.

Domestic violence and abuse does not discriminate. It happens among heterosexual couples and in same-sex partnerships. It occurs within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, and economic levels. And while women are more commonly victimized, men are also abused—especially verbally and emotionally, although sometimes even physically as well. The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable, whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.

Recognizing abuse is the first step to getting help

Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make you feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain—and your first step to breaking free is recognizing that your situation is abusive. Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, then you can get the help you need.

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Things Not to Say to a Rape Victim

I’ve seen this floating around the internet for a while now. Out of all the do’s and don’ts that I have seen for this topic, this is by far the best one I’ve seen. Some of them may sound goofy or dumb, but I am sure some how somewhere someone was told that particular thing. It’s amazing that the only people who ever seem to read these things are rape victims hoping that someone they know will be sincere enough. Or at least that’s my opinion. I hope everyone takes a minute to read over these. Chances are, you know someone affected by sexual assault. Many victims (like myself) stay silent for many reasons. We need to help break the silence once and for all. The victims did nothing wrong… the rapists did.

Ways to Help

Your loved one may need your help right now, but be unable to ask for it. I hope you’ll consider offering it. You can help her heal more than you know.

Believe him or her. This is the most important thing you can do. Even if the assault or abuse happened many years ago, she needs to be believed now.

Validate the emotions your loved one expressed. Healing from sexual assault presents survivors with a myriad of feelings. Your loved one has every right to each of his unique feelings.

Offer a somewhat detached perspective. It may be easier for your friend to talk about rape and sexual assault if you respond by letting her know that you care about what happened to her, but avoid showing very strong emotional reactions. This is because many of us feel somehow responsible for our supporter’s feelings about the sexual violence. Of course, you probably do have strong feelings about it and will need support for them. Try to avoid depending on the survivor for that support.

Offer practical support. Your friend may find that organizing her life is difficult while she is in crisis. You can help by offering to help. For instance, she may need help moving out of her apartment or she may be nervous about attending her first counseling session. Just by offering your help, she will know that you care and if she needs you, she’ll be able take you up on it.

Call her and make plans with her. While I was in crisis, healing from my rape, the friends I most appreciated would call me up, with a suggested activity and a date and time. Your friend may be feeling to overwhelmed to pick up the phone and make plans with you, but she will probably appreciate it if you do.

Let her know you are thinking of her. Send flowers, a card or a note. Knowing that you care will lift her spirits during the tough times. I still keep notes from thoughtful friends and sometimes am moved to tears by the love they extended to me.

Express your anger in a controlled manner. Your loved one has likely experienced her rape as violent and out of control. Expressions of heated anger will likely make her feel further out of control.

Educate yourself. Sexual assault triggers a wide range of emotions. Your loved one may find herself becoming anxious, disassociated from her feelings, or depressed. If you educate yourself about the responses to sexual assault, you’ll be better prepared to help her deal with his.

Take time for yourself. Talking to someone in such pain can be difficult. Take the time that you need. You’ll do more help by stepping back for a moment than you will by listening resentfully.

Most importantly, let her know she can talk to you. Your compassionate, listening ear is the best you have to give her. Let her know that you are not afraid to listen to what she has to say. However, please bear in mind that she may not always want to talk about her feelings about her assault. Sometimes it is just too difficult, but knowing that you are available can be enough to get her through the painful times.

There are many ways that you can help a friend or family member who has been a victim of rape or sexual violence:

Listen. Be there. Don’t be judgmental. Be patient. Remember, it will take your loved one some time to deal with the crime. Help to empower your loved one. Rape and sexual violence are crimes that take away an individual’s power, it is important not to compound this experience by putting pressure on your loved one to do things that he or she is not ready to do yet.

It is also important to note that having a friend or family member who is raped or assaulted can be a very upsetting experience. For this reason it is also important that you take care of yourself. Even if your friend and family member isn’t ready to talk, you can get support for yourself.

Things to Say

Many people do not know what to say when a friend is talking about sexual assault. Most of the time, your supportive listening ear is all that is needed. Please bear in mind that your friend has had total control taken from her and is probably struggling to reclaim it. Offering ideas and suggestions is a better idea than giving direct advice. It is not always necessary to come up with the perfect words, but here are a few ideas.

You are on my mind. How are you? How can I help you? Can I do anything to make things better for you right now? I’m glad you told me. It just happened to you. You didn’t cause it and you didn’t deserve it. I’ll support you no matter what you decide to do. What would you like to do next? It’s okay of you are at a loss for words. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. You are doing the very best you can.

What Not to Say

Talking about sexual assault is very difficult for a survivor. If she is telling you about what happened, she is probably revealing a very intimate part of herself to you. She deserves to be believed and treated with respect. If you have said any of these things, though, you could probably just apologize and she’ll feel a lot better.

Silence: When I told others about my rape, embarrassed silence felt like shame to me. “I’m so sorry,” is a good reaction.

Any sort of minimizing statement: “It could have been worse,” “Don’t think about it,” “Life goes on,” and statements that ignore what we are feeling are likely to be received as minimizing our pain and it will hurt. A simple “I’m so glad you are here with me. It will take time, but you will get through this. I am here for you as you do,” will make your friend feel better.

“You’ve got to move on with your life.” — Healing is the survivor’s life right now. She’s doing the work she needs to do so she can feel whole again.

Statements that begin with “You need to…” — Please respect her enough to let her decide what she needs to do. She may, however, appreciate it if you pointed out options by rephrasing those statements to begin with “You could…”

“What did you do to cause it?” — The survivor did nothing to cause what happened. Nothing about her could provoke a normal person to assault her. The blame lies on her attacker.

“It doesn’t sound like it was a bad rape.” — Since rape is prevalent in our society, a lot of people think it is no big deal. However, having an unwanted object put inside of your body is just about the most violating and violent thing that can happen to a person, even if there are no wounds or bruises. Please don’t minimize what happened to your loved one.

“Isn’t it time you got over this?” — Healing from sexual assault takes time and sometimes things just come up to remind a survivor of what she endured. Healing from trauma cannot be neatly enclosed into a time limit.

“He didn’t actually rape you.” — If someone attempted to rape your friend, but was not able to complete it, she may very well feel horrible. After my rape, I found myself questioning the humanity of others. How could someone have wanted to do this to me? Did I provoke this? What does this say about my humanity and the humanity of others? It is likely that your friend is having similar questions.

“If this were true, you would have reported it.” — If we went by statistics, rape and child abuse would, in fact, seem rare. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 2000, only 28% of rapes were reported in 1999. Of sexually abused children in grades five through twelve 48% of the boys and 29% of the girls told no one about the abuse, not even a friend or sibling. Many people do not report for a myriad of reasons, but that does not mean it did not happen.

“I’m going to kill him.” — This will probably frighten her. You have every right to be angry, but please keep her feelings in mind. A simple, “It makes me very angry that you were violated,” said calmly will validate her feelings and will probably not frighten her.

“You knew/were married to him. It can’t be rape.” 62% of female survivors knew their assailant. 43% of survivors are raped by a friend or acquaintance. 17% were raped by an intimate (NCVS, 2000). The rapist is very rarely a masked man jumping out of the bushes.

“Why didn’t you report it?” — Sometimes this question is asked out of honest curiosity, but a lot of survivors will see it as a criticism of their choices.

“Can we talk about something else? This is disgusting.” — What was done to your friend is unconscionable, but she is not. Don’t make her feel as though she is.

“You are doing this for attention. I very much doubt that your friend is trying to call attention to herself by making herself known as “The Victim of Sexual Violence,” It’s not a title many people want.

“Move on. It happened so long ago.” A survivor would like nothing more than to be able to “move on.” That is not possible without processing the resulting feelings. To do so, she needs to talk. Please don’t silence her as she moves through the process. Perhaps you could tell her you are glad she is dealing with it now.

“He would never do that!” Rapists can be anyone. They can be the most popular boy in school, they can be a friend’s brother. It is doubtful that your friend is lying. A better thing to say would be, “There is no way you could have known he would do that.”

“But you went out on a date with him.” Date rape is very common. Going on a date does not make a person obligated to have sex.

“Why didn’t you scream or fight?” Rape is often seen as a life threatening experience. In life threatening instances, humans fight, freeze, or flee. Your friend may have frozen, which is a very common response. She may already be asking herself those questions. What she needs from you is reassurance that it is a totally normal reaction and does not excuse the rapist’s actions

And here are some more… We’re still your friends, family, wives, moms, students, husbands, teachers, doctors, brothers and loved ones. There’s no need to back off or be scared of us. For the most part these suggestions are pretty easy to avoid, as you will see in a minute. Please don’t…

  1. Ask if we liked it. No one likes being physically overpowered.
  2. Tell us “it’s just sex”. Rape is a crime of power, control, and extreme violence where sex is used as a weapon against someone weaker. It is not sex.
  3. Tell us how we could have avoided it. Believe me, if we could have prevented it we would have.
  4. Make fun of us. We have faced an attacker who sometimes is willing to kill and have survived. What’s there to make fun of?
  5. Tell us it would never happen to you and why. We didn’t think we would become statistics either.
  6. There’s no need to avoid us. We’re still the same person you’ve come to care about or learned to care about. We’ve just been unspeakably hurt. We’re not contagious.
  7. Please don’t treat us like we have the plague. Chances are we don’t. Do you?
  8. God isn’t punishing us for some misdeed by allowing this to happen. God helps us heal. He doesn’t send someone to hurt His people.
  9. Don’t tell us it was God’s will we were raped. Do tell us it was God’s will that we survived!
  10. Don’t disbelieve us. According to survey respondents being disbelieved is a survivor’s greatest fear.
  11. Don’t tell us that survivors make up tales for attention. According to The National Coalition Against Sexual Assault false rape reports only happen 2% of the time. That’s a 98% chance that no matter how strange it sounds to you the rape isn’t being abricated.
  12. Don’t tell me not to talk about it. Yes it upsets me to talk about it but that is the only way that I can sort through it.
  13. Don’t say, “It happened on a date, that’s common”. When you say that, it belittles me and my feelings about the assault. It’s not common because it happened to me and I’m not a statistic.
  14. Don’t say “other people have it worse off than you”. I’m not “other people”. I’m me.
  15. Don’t feel you need to retaliate against our attacker. We know the perpetrator is capable of violence. Please don’t make us worry about you being hurt. We’ll feel more secure knowing you’ll remain in one piece.
  16. Don’t blame us for what happened. It’s not our fault.
  17. Don’t tell us to “get over it”. We would if we could and we are trying our best. Support us as we struggle to find our way again.
  18. Don’t tell us to put what happened out of our minds. It’s not that simple.
  19. Don’t tell us “it’s no big deal”. Rape is an enormous challenge to heal from. It haunts even our dreams.
  20. If we disagree about safety issues in the future please realize that what may sound strange to you may help us feel safe.
  21. Don’t say something like, “Well, it’s been six months (a year, 5 years etc.) and ask if we’re “over it” yet. Chances are that we may not be ready to go back to life as it was. We may never be ready and may have to create a new life for ourselves as we learn to be safe again.
  22. Don’t tell us we are weak because it impacts our life. We are stronger than words can describe.
  23. Don’t ask us what you are supposed to do to get past what happened to us. We aren’t sure what we’re going to do.
  24. Don’t ask us if we did this on purpose. We didn’t do anything except survive.
  25. Don’t ask us if we couldn’t have done something differently during the attack. We made the best choices we could to survive. We got away without being killed didn’t we? That’s proof our instincts were right. Please help us learn to realize that ourselves.
  26. Don’t tell us that it’s not rape because we knew the attacker. Numerous studies tell us that our perpetrators are more likely to be known to us than unknown.
  27. If you give us a hug and we pull away please know that chances are we’re not rejecting you. We may have a hard time being able to respond right now.
  28. If we do pull away from you please don’t get mad. Tell us you care. Chances are you’ll get that hug after all!
  29. If you’re together and the survivor has a flashback, try not to be mad at the survivor. We hate the darned things too! Flashbacks are always rough. It’s difficult to know what to do. It’s got to be difficult to watch. Any anger should go the one who caused the rape and not the survivor who has to put her life together.
  30. Don’t be afraid to talk to us if we’re upset. Knowing you are there may be just what we need.
  31. If we become suicidal please don’t take that as a sign of weakness. Take that as a sign we’re overwhelmed, trying to cope, and need help.
  32. Don’t pretend rape doesn’t happen to people you know. It does.
  33. Don’t get the idea rape just happens to “those” kinds of people. This crime happens to as many as 1 woman in 4 crossing ethnic, racial, economic and social boundaries.
  34. Don’t be afraid of a person who was raped. I promise as a survivor, the rape will affect you but won’t rub off on you. The person you love is still the same person as before.
  35. Don’t deny your feelings after finding out a friend was raped. Call a rape crisis center’s hotline and find out what support is available for you.
  36. Do not tell us we should take it as a compliment. Rape isn’t about lust or attractiveness, it’s an act of power and force.
  37. Do not tell us “Oh yeah, I know a bunch of girls who’ve been raped” as if it were no big deal. We realize we aren’t the only ones but by saying that it belittles how it hurts by making it just another number.