5 Things To Do and 7 Things Not to Do When Someone Tells you They Were Sexually Assaulted

Just like there is not a perfect way for survivor of sexual violence to heal, there’s not an perfect way to understand why sexual violence happens. It’s not cut and dry nor is it “rocket science” and this sort of thinking needs to end, because the real victim is suvivor, not the perpetrator nor the social context that everyone believes that it is the woman’s responsibility to not get raped.

In the article by Jack Fischl of the online site Mic titled, ” 5 Things To Do and 7 Things Not To Do When Someone Tells You They Were Sexually Assaulted”, actually lists what those things. I will elaborate on each one.

7 Things NOT To Do

  1. Do NOT criticize the survivor’s actions leading up to or during the assault and do NOT suggest other ways what they could have handled the situation. Example:

       -“Why didn’t you push him off?

-“Why didn’t you scream for help?”

   Doing so is unproductive and will only result in the survivor blaming themselves.

2. Do NOT compare rape stories. Example

“Well at least you weren’t gang-raped like that girl in India.”

Unfortunately, victims of sexual assault can also make the same mistake of doing this too:

Victim 1: I was date-raped

Victim 2: Well at least you weren’t raped by someone you trusted.

3. If you are family of a survivor, do NOT tell the survivor that they should “get over their rape and move on with their life.

Yes the incident may have have an impact on their behavior, however this does not condone such comments like, “Why can’t you go back to the way things were?” or “Just get over it.”  Unlike physical injuries, emotions ones may take much longer to heal.

4. If you are family of a survivor, do NOT blame the victim for not being more supportive of the family.

Keep in mind this will affect you, the rest of your family and your loved one who underwent the incident, but above all that be sure to focus on your love one’s needs.

5. Do NOT sympathize with the rapist by saying anything like:

“He was too drunk to know what he was doing.”

“Boys will be boys.”

“Well, she though she consented.”

6. Do NOT ever prescribe to the idea that “Sometimes, girls just don’t know what they want or  that “A man knows what’s best:

To some men they think no means yes.

7. Do NOT ever use any of the following phrases, ever:

Well maybe if she didn’t wear that a skimpy outfit she wouldn’t have been raped.”

Maybe if she didn’t drink so much she wouldn’t have been date raped.”

Maybe if she hadn’t trusted her boyfriend for so long she wouldn’t have blind-sided and had no idea what was happening to her.

Maybe if she was smarter she wouldn’t be raped.

5 Things TO Do

So then what is the more appropriate approach to support? Fischl suggests that 5 things that can be done.

  1. Empathize. Say for example: I’m sorry that happened to you.
  2. Offer to be there. For example say, “If You ever need to vent, talk, or just cry, you can call me. I’m so sorry.”
  3. Offer to listen. By allowing the survivor to talk about what they went through, you are allowing them to heal, which is healthier.
  4. As a survivor, if you don’t know what to do, don’t know what to think, that’s normal. Be patient and good to yourself. You will get better.
  5. Remember that is isn’t your problem to solve. You’re there to support the victim, and that’s it.  Keep in mind that if a survivor of sexual assault comes to you don’t expect it’s something to be solved nor something you can apply your own logic to (men with all their good intentions can be notorious of this).

There’s not an easy to help a survivor of sexual assault, but doing those 5 simple things can be a good start. You may be like, “Those simple 5 things? That’s it?” That’s it. I tell my family and friends that all the time. It helps me heal, knowing they’re just there for me. And as for the 7 things about what NOT to do? It’s as simple as well…NOT doing them.

More Readings

How A Victim Blaming System Excuses Rape

“If You’re A Good Guy, You Can’t Possibly A Rapist”

People Often Defend An Alleged Rapist’s Character. Here’s Why You Should Doubt them.

Rape-splaining: 10 Examples of Victim Blaming

Charmed: Switches and Stones (AKA: Medusa’s Revenge, AKA: The Bystander Effect)


Image result for medusa

Source: Vice


The Sad Untold Story of Medusa

I’m sure you’ve heard about the story of Medusa. You know… the woman who was cursed because she was beautiful and then ended up having snakes heads for hair and with just one look, she’d turn her victims into stone. The only way she could be stopped, by cutting off her head. But have you heard of the real…story about WHY she was really cursed?

The whole thing started when Medusa, a mortal, was raped by Posideon because she was beautiful. The thing it was happening in Athena’s place of worship and Athena cursed Medusa into a monster. Anyone see the problem with this? This whole time, even through pop culture, she was this evil monster, who in every story had her head cut off and her killer was named a hero. However, she was victim of rape and victim blaming. And here I thought that Athena was supposed to be the goddess of wisdom.

In an episode of Charmed, titled “Switches and Stones”, Maggie, Mel, and Macy find a case of men who are turned into stone. This all happening during the time of Maggie’s Kappa Rush time and…during the time Maggie and Mel switched bodies by accident due to a magic spell. The sister’s figure it’s a magical creature, Medusa, who is turning people, mostly guys, to stone. But they are wondering, why…

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Huh how interesting…a demon helping victims of slut shaming, makes you wonder who is worse humans or monsters? I mean…it’s one thing being the person who starts slut shaming, but another to be a bystander.  The bystander effect according to Psychology Today, occurs when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation.

Bystander Effect

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So what is a bystander? According to Google, a bystander is someone (or a group of people) who is present at an event or incident, but does not take part. Other words for bystander include onlooker. But then…there is an interesting term called “Bystander Effect.” So what is the “Bystander Effect?” The bystander effect occurs when  the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation (Psychology Today, n.d). In the case of the scene, the students were looking at the pics on their phone. So the question is then why what would cause students who clearly saw disturbing pictures of girls to do practically nothing. A chart from another Psychology Today article explains this (Burn, n.d.):

Barriers to Bystander Intervention

Again in the case of the students in the show, I wanna say they were “engaged” in numbers 2,3, and 5. The kids seemed fascinated more with the pictures and the shock value, rather than to call out (especially in front of their peers) a wrongdoing. In emergency situations where there four or more bystanders, only 31% will help (Gaille, 2017). In this case, that’s Mel, Maggie, and Macy out of all the people who are at the Kappa Rush party. Disappointing.

Non-Consensual Photo Sharing

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So sad. She had summon a demon to stand up for her, because other people wouldn’t. I can’t imagine the distress anyone would go through when going something like THAT, ESPECIALLY  after telling the abuser NOT to send the picture. The act that the girl’s abuser is called, “Non-Consensual Photo Sharing”. What constitutes as “Non-Consensual Photo Sharing” is (Breakthrough, n.d.):

  • Taking intimate photos or video without consent
  • Sharing intimate photos or videos taken with consent-and the reasonable expectation of privacy-and sharing them without consent
  • Sharing photos or videos with the intention of humiliating, degrading, or harassing someone
  • Using coercive behavior to obtain intimate photos or videos
  • Taking and sharing photos or videos of sexual assault
  • Unsolicited photo and video sharing as harassment


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That’s the unfortunate thing slut shaming does…it causes low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and relationship disturbances. Whatever form sexual assault/harassment comes in, “No” ALWAYS means “No”. To not respect, is well…sexual assault/harassment. In the case of the girl. So what is consent? It must be:

  • Clear
  • Coherent
  • Willing
  • Ongoing

So, the pictures of the girl were not given by her consent.

Image result for what is consent

Source: SUNO


Victim Shaming

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When we as a people engage in victim blaming, we are basically ostracizing them…saying their story doesn’t matter. When we say things like (“How To,” n.d.):

  • She asked for it
  • It wasn’t really rape
  • He didn’t mean to
  • She wanted it
  • She lied
  • Rape is a trivial event
  • Rape is a deviant event

Victims are already going through so much in themselves:  shame, low self-esteem, hopelessness/helplessness, denial or minimizing what had happened to them and fear of the consequences if they do report what happened to them, especially if their assaulter is rich and powerful (Engel,  2017).

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How to Help Victims of Sexual Assault

Definitely, what can be a help is by carefully wording what we say (“Tips for, n.d):

  • “I believe you”./ “It took you a lot of courage to me about this.”
  • “It’s not your fault.”/ “You didn’t do anything to deserve this.”
  • “You are not alone.” /”I care about you and I am here to listen or help in anyway I can.”
  • “I’m sorry this happened”/ “This shouldn’t have happened to you.”

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Other Reasons Why People Don’t Step In

 There are some other reasons why people remain bystanders:

  • “[The] situations present that create more danger to a perceived situation, such as having a perpetrator present.
  • “[S]omeone will only choose to act if the potential reward is greater than the known risk.
  • “The costs of an intervention being physical in nature is one of the greatest attenuations of the bystander effect.”
  • “The more we live in cities and are part of crowds, the problems of ignoring the plight of individuals, of communities and groups will remain with us, unless we address it proactively.”
  • I liked how Maggie…well, Mel (who was in Maggie’s body), talked about what happened to one of the rushees who was assaulted even though she was afraid (for Maggie’s sake at least) she might lose her place as a Kappa Rushee. Luckily that didn’t happened
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    What Else Can Be Done To Help Sexual Assault Victims

    There are plenty of ways to help victims of sexual assault with having to do anything uber heroic.

    RAINN suggests:

    • Avoiding Judgement
    • Check in periodically with them
    • Knowing your resources- This includes knowing the RAINN hotline: (800) 273-HOPE (4673), knowing the National Suicide Provider Lifeline: (800) 273-TALK (8255), but most importantly…remind them to do good self-care

    If you want to intervene there are some things that can be used to protect and help you (Gaille, 2017):

    • “Many communities have enacted Good Samaritan laws that require people to help when they see an emergency situation or a legal penalty, including jail time in some jurisdictions, may result.”
    • “Training programs that give people certain skills to better recognize an emergency situation can help spur action when they see it happen for real outside of the classroom.”
    • “Rewards and other protections have been instituted in different industries and environments to protect whistleblowers and heighten the need for ongoing activism.”

    If you or someone you know is undergoing any form of nonconsensual photo sharing contact the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative Hotline number below:

    Image result for CCRI CRISIS HELPLINE

    You can also visit the CCRI website for more details:

    Cyber Civil Rights Initiative


    Breakthrough. (n.d.) Understanding Non-Consensual Photo Sharing. Retrieved from: https://us.breakthrough.tv/resources/understanding-non-consensual-photo-sharing/

    Burn, Shawn Megan. (n.d.) “A Situational Model of Sexual Assault Prevention Through Bystander Intervention.” Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/files/attachments/124123/situational-model-sexual-assault-prevention-through-bystande.pdf

    Engle, Beverly. (2017). Why Don’t Victims of Sexual Harasssment Come Foward Sooner? Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-compassion-chronicles/201711/why-dont-victims-sexual-harassment-come-forward-sooner

    Gaille, Brandon. (2017)17 Exceptional Bystander Effect Statistics. Retrieved from: https://brandongaille.com/16-exceptional-bystander-effect-statistics/

    Harvard Law School Halt. (n.d.) How To Avoid Victim Blaming. Retrieved from: https://orgs.law.harvard.edu/halt/how-to-avoid-victim-blaming/

    Psychology Today.”Bystander Effect” (n.d.). Retrieved from, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/bystander-effect

     RAINN. “Tips for Talking with Survivors of Sexual Assault.” (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.rainn.org/articles/tips-talking-survivors-sexual-assault

    More Reading

    “Bystander Effect’ and Sexual Assault: What The Research Says

    “It’s Victimization”: Push Grows To Charge Onlookers Who Tape Sexual Assaults

    Punish The Onlookers

    The Effects of Slut Shaming on Teen Girls

    The Time I Totally Failed to Stand Up to a Street Harasser

    The Timeless Myth of Medusa, a Rape Victim Turned Into a Monster

    R. Kelly, Part 6: Victim Shaming

    Dr Luke’s Lawyer: “But again, there are people that are falsely accused of rape, aren’t there? You think there has never been a false accusation of rape?”

    Lady Gaga: How about all of the women that are accused of being liars and how she was slut shamed in front of the world, how about that?

    Lady Gaga fighting for Kesha against her former music producer Dr. LukeFrom the online article: How Can Sexual Abuse Survivors get Justice When the System fails them?


    I don’t really get the whole thing about victim shaming. No…it’s not that I don’t know what it is, but rather..why does society blame the victim? Why does society seem to crucify the people who need the most help? The victims who presented themselves on the Lifetime show, “Surviving R. Kelly” and even on the Dateline Special, “R.Kelly: Accused” are viewed pretty much as TV whores….women who are vying for their 15 minutes of fame and to gain money. However, after even listening to clips of their stories, I believed them, especially when they talked how it affected their lives, because I know how my incident affected mine.

    So in a definition context, what is victim shaming? According to Wikipedia (I just loved how they perfectly defined it), “Victim Shaming or victim blaming “occurs when the victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially at fault for the harm that befalls them.” Why is that? It’s because compared to a robbery, the victim is more to their assaulter.

    Here are some other reasons why people disbelieve survivors (Whiting, 2019):

    1. The Myth of the Evil Perpetrator
    2. Wishing the World Was Safe
    3. The Wrong Kind of Victim
    4. Confusion and Self-Blame

    The Myth of the Evil Perpetrator

    This is guy that everyone understates. Why? One could be his socioeconomic status…meaning he’s rich….he’s successful. He has an outstanding reputation…the guy that everyone loves…the guy everyone knows and trusts. He’s the “nice guy” and this “nice guy” is either good looking or they are someone you’d even trust your children with.They’d never do such heinous things.


    Larry Nassar, the now disgraced USA Gymnastics national team doctor and osteopathic physician for Michigan State University, was someone who well-known for being generous, selfless, and committed. He was known for his goofy charm and steadfast service, that when the young girls tried to report his actions , their cries were often ignored. And it didn’t help either since he was known for “women’s pelvic issues” which was helpful for common injuries that were faced in gymnastics, he would rebuke the girl’s cries of his sexual advances by saying they misunderstood his “technique”.

    Wishing the World Was Safe

    I guess for some people ignorance really is bliss for some people while still having this “I could have seen it a mile a way” attitude. Well, of course they could. If after I’ve heard someone story without having being in the situation myself,  of course, I would have seen it coming. Researchers call this the “hindsight effect.” In one study, research participants read different versions of a story. One group of participant read a version where a character was raped at the end, while the other group head the netural ending. The first group displayed a bias toward their character after picking up on clues from the story hence leading towards the “I knew it all along” bias where the listening audience  may make the situation being told them “predictable” or “easy” when really…. it wasn’t.


    In Mississippi, a woman was raped on a Biloxi Bay Bridge when she went out running. Even though she reported the assault and was treated and tested local hospital, people still had something to say about the incident: “I would not run alone that late at night, especially being a woman. Go during daylight or with a running buddy” and “It’s dark at  6 p.m. what was was she even doing alone walking on the bridge?”

    The Wrong Kind of Victim

    Or what is called, “ideal victim” is where the victim must fit these five characteristics:

    1. Weak/vulnerable
    2. Involved in a respectable activity at the time of victimization
    3. Blameless in all aspects of the interaction
    4. Victimized by an obvious offender
    5.  Someone who does not know the offender

    Example: If a person fights back, is not dressing in the right way, is intoxicated or if the accused is someone they know, their story is more likely to be questioned or doubted

    4. Confusion and Self-Blame

    Here the victim may either accept that the blame their perpetrator is placing on them or feel a deep shame for allowing the abuse to keep happening or for being at the wrong place or for not getting away.


    One of Larry Nassar’s early victims, Larissa Boyce, while trusting in her coach who found her claim upsetting, then was told by her coach, that if she reported about the incident it would have “very serious consequences” for both Nassar and herself. Terrified at this possibility, Larissa end up eventually crying and apologizing to Nassar, saying it was a “misunderstanding and all her fault”.

    So, how can people  know what sexual assault is? Educate themselves. It’s as School House Rocky says, because:

    Image result for schoolhouse rock knowledge is power gif

    Sorry had to put a lighthearted gif, to such a tough topic. And I don’t know about you, but Schoolhouse Rock always put a smile on my face 😀

    Alright, so what sites could help people better under sexual assault? Take a look at the sites below:

    No More


    Planned Parenthood


    Reach Out (Australia)

    The Survivors Trust (UK)

    Victims Connect

    Victims of Crime

    Victims Support (UK)

    1 in 6

    If you live outside of the U.S. and know of any anti-sexual assault organiation in your nation, if you can message me, so I can put in this post. Thank you!


    “How Denial and Victim Blaming Keep Sexual Assault Hidden”. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/love-lies-and-conflict/201901/how-denial-and-victim-blaming-keep-sexual-assault-hidden

    Victim Blaming. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victim_blaming

    More Readings

    Amber Heard: I Spoke Up Against Sexual Violence and Faced Our Culture’s Wrath

    Ex-Baylor Frat President Indicted On 4 Counts of Sexual Assault Won’t Go To Prison

    The Veil of Silence is Lifted for Black Women Thanks to R. Kelly Docuseries

    The Hearing That Forced The World To Listen To Larry Nassar’s Survivors

    Why Do Sexual Assault Victims Wait So Long To Speak Out? Take A Look At The Comments Section

    A Writer’s Rant (AKA Writer’s Outrage): Mental Illness,Gun Violence, and Race


    When is the government going to do something about gun control?! But no….don’t blame gun control…blame lack of safety school measures and the mentally ill! The mentally ill! This is what I have a problem with blaming the mentally ill:

    1. It perpetuates further stigma towards people living with mental illness
    2. It does ABSOLUTELY nothing to solve the terror around our schools
    3. It safe guards white terrorists

    The Blame Game


    What’s funny is that Trump wants to build a wall—a $15 million wall—to keep all the “bad” Mexicans out. So then how do prevent our own “homegrown” terrorists from causing harm to Americans? What are the solutions to that? While I do understand the incompetence of the FBI not looking into Nikolas Cruz when both callers and even Cruz’s social media pages were basically screaming, “Hey! Potential terrorist, right here!” after years of the FBI telling all Americans if they “See something, Say something.”, they do ABSOLUTELY nothing! But then you got Trump and his crew either blaming every Tom, Dick and Harry or skipping around the issue of gun control:

    YES we need to make school safety a top issue, but what we REALLY need is to make gun control a safe issue!

    So, what after 5 days from the school shooting, Pence has gained NOTHING from the school shooting??? It’s hard to believe how hell bent Trump and his crew are still on creating a wall. Talk about blockheads! NO! We need to protect our children, teachers and staff. How the hell is a wall going to do that?

    Really??? A blame game? What the hell is this elementary school??? Yes, FBI screwed up…BIG time, but how is playing the blame game exercising your leadership as the President of these United States??? If Trump wants to prove how great his administration is then he should walk the talk or better yet stop tweeting!

    Aw, that’s so nice! Okay Rubio…if you want “honor” those injured and killed in the shooting, then how about getting your colleagues into drawing up a gun protection law? 🙂

    Look at the chart below at the school shootings alone from 1998:

    (Source: CNN)

    Now look at the school shootings that have taken place since the first days of the new year:

    I mean what the f*** is going to take to get those fat cats in Washington D.C. to pass a gun control law? How many our nation’s schools and families have to suffer, because for whatever reason they’d rather protect NRA?

    Mentally Ill or Terrorist: The Depiction of the Race of the Shooter


    Why is it for every white shooter they are automatically labeled mentally ill, but for every shooter of color they are labeled terrorists?  The problem is white shooters are often, humanized. On a Huffington Post online article titled, “The Double Standard In How The Media Is Portraying The Las Vegas Shooter,” Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock,  was portrayed as a “lone wolf” and for that he “fit” the “mentally ill” bill. Then the Charleston, South Carolina shooter who evidently, who told his victims that he was going defend America from being taken over by Black people and even after he killed some victims, he told a woman he was sparing her on purpose so she can tell people what he did (Chu, 2015). However, if a Black or Muslim person commits a mass killing, “oh, my gosh! Terrorist!” Sarah Bland died with the media focusing on her run-ins in with the law, Muslim-Americans are looked at with suspicion for being apart of Al Qadea (or whatever extremist Islamic group is running these days) and the following Islam. Look Black, White, Asian, Arabic, Latino if a person creates a mass shooting among innocent lives they ARE a terrorist. PERIOD.


    The Reduction on Health Spending


    Okay so Trump blames mental illness as the cause to the shootings that took place on Wednesday 14th. But oh wait….did he tell the Americans about his newfound budget to cut mental health services, research, and treatment. Ooops…I guess he just “forgot”.

    With a 16% decrease to the Human and Health Services, here are some examples on how the new budget will affect mental health services, research, and treatment:

    • Discontinued funding for the screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment Program
    • Eliminating of $451 million in other health professions and training programs
    • Reduction towards funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Program of Regional and National Significance by–$600 million
    • Elimination of funding for Minority Fellowship programs at SAMHSA
    • Discontinued funding for the Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment  program.

    Source: Mental Health America

    In reality, only 4% of violence is connected to serious mental illness. People with mental illness are in fact more likely in fact to bring harm among themselves; this is why WE need mental health services. But unfortunately it seems the government has abandoned us and  put the NRA above us. However in spite of this, we must never give up for gun control and the protection of the lives of our school children and staff. Enough is enough with the blame control of guns



    Chu, A. (2015, June). It’s Not About Mental Illness: The Big Lie That Always Follows Mass Shooting By White Males. Salon. Retrieved from https://www.salon.com/2015/06/18/its_not_about_mental_illness_the_big_lie_that_always_follows_mass_shootings_by_white_males/

    Ruiz-Grossman, S. (2017, October). The Double Standard In How The Media Is Portraying The Las Vegas Shooter. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/double-standard-white-privilege-media-las-vegas-shooting_us_59d3da15e4b04b9f92058316

    For More Reading on Race, Mental Health and Mass Shootings, click on the links below:

    A False Dichotomy? Mental Illness and Lone-Actor Terrorism

    Checking Facts and Falsehoods About Gun Violence and Mental Illness After Parkland Shooting

    How the Media Smears Black Victims

    More than 17 Cartoons About the Shootings That’ll Make You cry, Cringe, Call a Congressman

    Myths on Violence and Mental Health

    School Shootings in the US Keep Happening Again and Again and Again

    Shooters of Color are Called “Terrorists” and “Thugs.” Why are White Shooters called “Mentally Ill”?

    The Myth Behind Mental Illness: Why the Mentally Ill Should Not Be Blamed for America’s Gun Violence

    The White Privilege of the “Lone Wolf” Shooter

    209 School Shootings In America Since 2013