Trauma, Despair, Abuse, PTSD, Rape Survivor, Group Therapy
Therese Basham is an independent Marketing and Communications Consultant based in St. Louis, Missouri. In addition to being a stay-at-home mom to her son and daughter for the past twenty years, she has remained engaged as a free-lance marketing communications writer, photographer, and videographer. She recently joined the Association of Professional Photo Organizers and is now helping individuals bring order to their digital and physical photo and video collections. Therese is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where she studied marketing and psychology.
They Might Be Thinking:
Nobody will want to be with me now.
I’m afraid my partner won’t want to be with me any more.
I’m afraid my partner will be really angry and try to retaliate.
I’m afraid to be by myself or go out by myself.
I’m afraid people won’t believe me.
I’m afraid people will think I did something to encourage my attacker.
I’m afraid people will think I didn’t do enough to prevent it.
I’m afraid to go to the police to report the incident.
I’m afraid I’ve waited too long to report the incident.
Do I need medical care?
I don’t want to have to re-live this.
Should I tell my family?
I’m afraid my attacker will come after me again.
Why did this happen to me?
I feel so ashamed that this happened to me.
I’m worried I might be pregnant.
I’m worried I might have contracted an STD.
Will I ever feel normal again?
Words That Might Be Encouraging:
You have my unconditional support. How can I be here for you during this time?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Don’t give up. Take it day by day.
You didn’t do anything wrong.
You didn’t deserve this and it wasn’t your fault.
I’m so sorry this happened to you.
You are not alone.
I believe you.
I care about you.
Thank you for confiding in me.
I’m here to listen if you want to talk about it, but it’s okay if you don’t.
You have options.
Your feelings are valid.
You are not a victim; you are a survivor.
You survived, so obviously you did the right thing.
I haven’t heard from you for a few days and wanted to check in. Are you doing okay?
It’s your decision whether you file a police report, but I will be with you every step of the way if you decide to move forward.
I can’t imagine what you are going through. Would you be open to going to therapy/a support group for survivors of sexual assault?
Would you like me to drive you to your therapy session/support group meeting?
Words That Might Be Discouraging:
What exactly happened?
You’ll feel better if you talk about it.
You shouldn’t have been there by yourself.
What were you wearing? Was it too suggestive?
You shouldn’t have been drinking.
You should have known better.
Are you sure he/she assaulted you? He/She seems like such a nice person!
I think you’re overreacting.
Maybe he/she was drunk.
What if you are pregnant?
I told you that person was no good.
It’s pretty common for something like this to happen during a date.
It’s not rape if you were on a date/are married.
Why didn’t you say something sooner?
Why didn’t you run/scream/fight back?
I understand exactly how you feel.
It happens to a lot of people; it’s not that big of a deal.
At least it wasn’t worse. (Avoid all statements beginning with, “At least …”)
That happened to another friend of mine and he/she is fine now.
Just don’t think about it.
In order to heal, you should forgive and forget.
Have you forgiven your attacker yet?
It’s time to move on.
Are you over it yet?
I can’t believe you didn’t go to the police afterward.
If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.
I don’t believe it.
You have to file a police report.
You have to join a survivors' group/go to therapy.
You have to tell your family/partner.
You should take self-defense classes.
You should move.
See Personalized Encouragement Recommendations for Someone You Care About