Working In The Field
For 6 years I worked part time as a volunteer medical crisis counselor with sexual assault victims in 15 different Chicago emergency rooms. Certified by the state, we had pagers to alert us at all hours when a survivor came into the E.R. which then we would meet them as close to arrival.
Helping survivors find their self worth was my main goal and something I was honored to do. Being a medical advocate I had a chance to stop the deterioration of someone’s self worth within hours after the sexual assault had occurred. We work with surrounding family and friends who are affected as well. Seeing first hand the loss of self worth can be devastating and convinces victims they don’t matter and further secluding them from feeling important. I was honored to help change that. Being in the media/modeling world is fantastic, but the most beautiful thing I can do for someone is help lead them on a path of importance and renewal of self worth.
What Rape Victim Advocates Do
When someone has been sexually assaulted and goes to the Emergency room in Chicago, a volunteer crisis counselor is called in to be a liaison between the police, hospital staff, and the sexual assault survivor. We make sure survivors needs are met, rights and laws are followed, and evidence is collected correctly.
Rape Victim Advocates
My Thoughts On Abuse
Abuse comes in many forms; sexual, physical, and verbal among others. The commonality between them; they’re all rooted in power, control and diminish self worth. I’ve heard people say some women like being treated poorly. It’s 2012, past that thinking. But why do they stay in abusive relationships? Many reasons, one to mention; abusive environments can rob someone of self worth and confidence over time. Not the act of the abuse, but how you view yourself as a result of those actions can put someone in a continued self-deserving state of mind.
Helping Someone Affected By Sexual Assault
Working with sexual assault survivors for many years taught me more than any textbook. Here’s some thoughts I can offer when talking to someone who has a history with sexual assault:
- The importance of rebuilding someone’s self-worth in most important. Without this there is no will to believe you are worthy of a beautiful life.
- Survivors need to know what happened is a big deal. The loss of self worth can manipulate their view of the importance of what actually occurred.
- Letting the survivor talk, let them be in control of the conversation. Control is something they lost, let them have some form of it back.
- Believing the survivor is monumental. I’ve heard it said girls falsely report rape. That may be something you’ll never have an answer to, but I say rather, take your chances believing someone and supporting them. You can never take back that first sense of drought they’ll see on your face if you don’t believe them. The statistics on false reporting rape are the same for reporting most other crimes falsely, very low.
- Survivors often blame themselves. Whatever they managed to do to stay alive through their experience was the right thing, because they survived. They didn’t scream? They didn’t fight back? That’s how they survived, and that’s why we often refer to them as survivors.
- 3/4 of women are raped by an acquaintance; someone they knew, maybe they flirted with, even kissed. This also commonly brings women and men to blame themselves. No one has the right to even hold your hand without your consent.
- I’ve heard people telling women they are dressing provocatively, or “asking for it”. This always make me laugh. There is nothing you can wear that’s says, “I deserve to be raped.” It should have been clear at the conception of our moral creation that rape is wrong, yet perpetrators are still searching for ways to justify rape by saying ‘she was dressed slutty’. Insane.
- Encourage the survivor to have a voice and report the incident. Many survivors don’t report rape because their loss of self-worth quiets their voice. They no longer see themselves as important, beautiful, strong human beings. This loss of self-worth is not unique to sexual assault victims. Self-worth is lost through physical and verbal abuse as well. Women and men over the years have kept their mouths shut by default to their situations. Keeping a silence may be enabling that perpetrator to repeat again. Think about the victim that didn’t have a voice and report before you. That their silence may have encouraged this repeat perpetrator that found you. If you don’t believe you are worth enough to report, think about your best friend that may become a victim from your silence. Your mother, who one in four chances has been a victim of sexual assaulted already, I’m not kidding I’ve worked with many mothers. Your sister, teacher, co-worker, they boy in front of you in line, they are all worth speaking up and reporting for. Just the threat of your ‘voice’ alone may detour them. Have a voice for all of those whose lost self worth quieted them.
Rape Victims Advocates (medical counselors) are available every day, 24 hours to help in Chicago (my hometown). Every visit to the emergency room is 100% free and confidential. We will guide you through everything, you are never alone. The hospital will give you your own private room with a door, ensuring privacy; it’s the law. Evidence will be collected, but only if you decide you want that. The police will be there, but again, YOU decide if you want to talk to them. You are in control. You will also have the option to receive free STD preventative medications, but most importantly you will have a chance to speak up and report. You truly are worth it. I know what it’s like to think ‘if someone could do this to me I must not be worth much’, but I promise, you are deeply valuable and deserving of everything beautiful, every single person on this earth is equally deserves a beautiful life.
The word rape I hope one day will only be to reference the past, but until then its powerful meaning is current and perpetuated by silence.