It can be scary to reach out for support as a survivor of sexual violence. You may feel ashamed, guilty, or afraid of being judged, but it's important to remember that seeking help is a brave and necessary step towards healing and recovery. Here at Say it Loud are trained professionals and support groups available to provide confidential and non-judgmental support.
It just happened
It's important that you know where to get support and how. Say it Loud is NOT a crisis team so read below on some services that can support you.
Local Sexual Assault Centres
You can go to your local SARC if you have recently been raped or sexually assaulted.
People who have recently been raped or sexually assaulted can seek private medical and practical help from SARCs.
You can also receive a forensic medical assessment if you think you might wish to report to the police.
This is the process in which a specially trained doctor or nurse gathers evidence from your body and clothing that may be used in court. You don't have to speak with the police if you go to a SARC.
You should also have the option of choosing whether or not to have a forensic medical examination.
It wasn't bad enough
A common feeling amongst survivors is feeling as if it was not 'bad enough'. This often prevents survivors from coming forward for support.
You may think..
But I didn't say no - I just did nothing
When experiencing something traumatic like sexual violence, it is really common for our body to go into what is called the 'freeze' reaction. It's our body going into survival mode. It's a bit like when a hedgehog is crossing the road. The hedgehog will see a car coming and huddle up into a ball and not move. Our bodies do the same to protect us.
They are my partner so they can't
It doesn’t matter who someone is, or how long you have been together – no-one has the right to do anything sexual with you without your consent.
I led them on - I was too drunk / I flirted / I wore revealing clothing
You have the right to wear whatever you want without being raped or sexually assaulted. You also have the right to flirt or go on a date without it always leading to sexual activity. You should be able to stop at any point. If you are drunk, you are unable to make an informed decision, meaning you cannot give consent. Any sexual activity that occurs without your consent, is a form of sexual violence.
I'm a man, I can't be sexually assaulted.
Regardless of gender, if you are forced, coerced, intimidated or bullied into sexual activity, it is a form of sexual violence.
I didn't feel anything after it happened
After rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, or any other form of sexual violence, there is no 'correct' way to feel. Many people are numb, confused, unsure, disconnected, or shocked. Your emotions may also shift over time. It is real and valid, regardless of how you feel.
But I said yes at the start?
Consent must be Freely given, Reversible, Informed, Enthusiastic and specific. This means even if at the start, you consented to kissing or different forms of sexual activity like oral sex, you can and are entitled to changing your mind if you choose to not have sexual intercourse or engage in other activities.
I'm not sure what happend
A common feeling amongst survivors is not knowing whether what happened to them was a form of sexual violence or not. This can often mean survivors do not reach out for support for fear they'll be told it didn't happen.
The main thing to remember is that if someone did something sexual with you without your consent, it is a form of sexual violence and should not have happened. This is true regardless of the circumstances, the kind of relationship you had with that person, or whether it happened once or multiple times.
Talk to our team
A lot of survivors who come to our team are confused or question whether they have been sexually assaulted, especially when they do not recall any physical or verbal force being used during the incident. For these individuals, we strive to help them understand that they can still have experienced sexual violence even if no physical force was used.