You will encounter rape survivors.
Men and women.
Many survivors end up with PTSD, which will be addressed in a later post.
There are five factors that determine how badly it's going to affect the person:
1) Your Mindset. If you're the type of person who, despite odds, is always fighting back (or trying to); who keeps as much of a can-do attitude as possible; and who has not just a thick skin but a hard interior as well, it won't affect you as much. That's not to say it won't be traumatic, because it will - just not as much.. If you're the kind who cries because her boss yells at her, you're going to be even more miserable. My advice is that you prepare yourself before something happens. Harden The Fuck Up now, and you'll be better able to deal with something like rape later if it comes to it.
2) The level of violence with which the act was committed. Some folks are so violently raped that even years afterwards it haunts them in everything. In other cases it wasn't that violent because fear made the victim docile and.... No. Wait. Keep in mind that it isn't up to you how violent your attacker is. You could be completely compliant and get badly beaten anyway. A man who'll use violence to rape will use violence just because he wants to. At any rate, the level of violence makes a big difference to the amount of trauma.
3) How aware you were of the act. From wide awake to passed-out drunk, your level of consciousness helps define the damage. If you don't actually experience the act, just the aftereffects, obviously it will traumatize you less than someone who was completely conscious the entire time.
4) How well the person knew their attackers. If the attacker is someone you trusted, that betrayal of trust adds a whole new level of emotional trauma completely apart from that of the rape.
5) The number of attackers. If there are more than one subhuman creatures willing to commit such a despicable act, you have to look at it as not one violation made worse by their numbers, but multiple violations, the damage of each one heaped atop the damage of the others.
These five factors end up creating a high amount of variables. Yes, each rape will have similarities, but inevitably each woman or man's case will be unique to them.
Several things will come into play: Trust will have to rebuilt, depression will occur, and self-worth may have been reduced. But some of the things you can do for the victim are really quite simple.
Respect them.Respect their personal space. Don't touch them, without asking permission. Let them initiate contact. Don't push them if they don't want to be touched. Don't force them to hug you, to be standing close to you, etc. They will only recoil from you in fear. Once they take the step first, don't crush them into yourself. Just hold them and LET GO when they want you to.
As they heal and re-find their confidence, they'll let you know when you can hug or touch without constant permission. There will still be times you need to ask, but it won't be every time. When will that be? Every person is different. Some people may only need a few weeks, other may need years. YOU must not let them see you lose patience with them. YOU must never recoil from them.
Reassure them. They may be feeling like damaged goods. Broken, worthless individuals. You will need to verbally re-assure that they aren't. That they mean something to you, and that they are going to be okay.
Respect their need for not wanting lectures. They don't need your stupid lectures on what they should have done or what they can do deal with it. When they've healed, advice may be helpful. But it can wait.
Which leads back to just reassuring them. Tell them while it's probably going to be a hard road, they WILL be okay and that they CAN do it.
I can tell you a lot about what it's like being a survivor. Here is a link to a post on my personal blog. I can tell you, most (80%) people, regardless of "side", are full of it regarding this topic.
And men, don't listen when someone says you can't help her heal. They're so full of crap it's ridiculous. This guy here can attest to that.
Every person's experience is going to be different. The PTSD that will occur in many cases is rough to handle, but again we'll cover that in a later post.
I can tell you this, though: if you, either as a survivor or as the person who is helping the survivor heal, let yourself go through the emotions - the anger, the grief, all of it - and don't repress, you come out of the experience a stronger and wiser person. It's completely possible. It's hard work, but don't let that stop you.
(Editor's Note: Due to the sensitive nature of this blog post, comments will be monitored . Disagreement is fine, but if it dissolves into personal attacks or BS political correctness, I will unleash the wrath of God upon you. You Have Been Warned.)