The Importance of Local Help
Local service providers make it easy for you to access care and are knowledgeable about local resources that can assist you.
Use this tool to find help near you: Find Help Near You
This list is made up of independent sexual assault service providers. Staff at these programs are dedicated to helping survivors in your area.
National Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors and their Loved Ones
Recovering from a sexual assault or abuse is a process, and that process looks different for everyone. It may take weeks, months, or years to heal. Below you’ll find some resources to help you navigate the process.
- How Can Therapy Help?– If you decide to seek support from a therapist after sexual assault or abuse, you may have some questions. That’s perfectly normal. Working with a therapist can help you deal with some of the challenges you may be facing.
- Safety Planning– Brainstorming ways to stay safe may help reduce the risk of future harm.
- Self Care After Trauma– Whether it happened recently or years ago, self care can help you cope with the short- and long-term effects of a trauma like sexual assault.
- Tips for Survivors on Consuming Media– Movies and TV shows that show sexual assault, incest, and child sexual abuse can be very difficult for survivors to watch.
- Airport Security for Survivors– Airport security can be stressful for any traveler, but for some survivors of sexual assault the security screening process is a little more sensitive.
For Loved Ones
- Tips for Talking with Survivors of Sexual Assault– It’s not always easy to know what to say when someone tells you they’ve been sexually assaulted, especially if they are a friend or family member.
- Help Someone You Care About– There are many ways that you can help a friend or family member who has been affected by sexual violence.
- Self Care for Friends and Family– There is no normal or “right” way to react when you find out that someone you care about has survived an act of sexual violence. Regardless of what you’re feeling, these emotions can be intense and difficult to deal with.
- Help for Parents of Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused by Family Members– It’s important to find a way to manage your feelings, so you can focus on creating a safe environment for your child that is free from harm, judgment, and blame.
Our sexual assault survivor clients often have a similar story, one that goes something like this – “when they touched me, I froze. I tensed up, I didn’t know what to do, I was completely frozen.”
This is known as the “freeze response,” completely normal and very common response to trauma. Many people involved in highly traumatic events – sexual assaults, school shootings, an ambush, sexual harassment, etc. – reply “I just froze” when asked why they didn’t flee or fight their attacker.Often times due to shock and fear of the sexual contact, the client will go into an involuntary “freeze response” to cope with the trauma of the assault. This is a completely normal physiological response because the sexual contact is unexpected and the brain was previously attempting to go into a state of relaxation.
Due to the “freeze response”, a client sexually assaulted g often fails to immediately scream for help or otherwise report an assault. Sometimes victims of sexual assault experience guilt or shame if they did not immediately stop the sexual contact or report it right away.
The “freeze response” is a completely normal trauma response and the victims should not feel shame or guilt. It is never too late to report a sexual assault.
There are a lot of similarities between a civil case and a criminal case. Both aim to hold the perpetrator accountable for his or her actions. Both may involve jury trials. Both aim to stop the abuse, so no other children or adults have to endure the same type of tragedy. The primary difference is that civil lawsuits seek that justice in different ways from criminal lawsuits, and are therefore executed differently. In a civil sexual abuse case:
- The standard of proof is different. It is easier to prove wrongdoing in a civil case where the victim only has to show a preponderance of the evidence that the sexual molestation or abuse happened. In criminal cases, the government has to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Because many cases are decided by the testimony of the witnesses, this distinction can be crucial.
- The victim’s representative is different. In civil cases, one of our experienced attorneys represents the abused child. In criminal cases, the government prosecutor brings the case.
- The aims differ. In civil cases, our aim is to hold the religious leader, and any church or religious entity that should have supervised the leader, accountable for his, her, or their actions. This is often achieved through seeking monetary damages. These damages should compensate the victim for all of the counseling bills that will be required and the extensive emotional suffering and loss of quality of life of the child. In criminal cases, the primary aim is to find the wrongdoers guilty and then to punish them with prison time.