Resources for Parents, Caregivers and Allies Supporting a Loved One Impacted by Sexual Violence #MeToo
Written by: Alexandra McMichael
If you have a loved one who has experienced sexual violence, it can feel overwhelming to figure out how to provide care. That feeling is completely normal. Here are some resources that can help you to understand what the impact of sexual violence could be on a survivor, and how to best support them. Most of all, be gentle on yourself!
How Do I Support My Child if They Have Been Sexually Assaulted?
A guide for friends and family of survivors of sexual assault — A great resource to better understanding sexual violence, how you can help, possible effects of the assault, self-care tips for you and the survivor, and more.
“It is important to respect each person’s choices and style of coping with this, and any, traumatic event. You can help by offering to connect victims with the services of a rape crisis center where staff are experienced in dealing with the effects and responding without judgment…” (http://www.pcar.org/sites/default/files/resource-pdfs/friends_and_family_guide_final.pdf)
For Friends, Family & Partners — A guide that helps you explore that how it feels to when a loved one is sexually assaulted. It includes self care and tips on being a ally.
“Finding out that someone you love has been sexually abused can be devastating. Friends and family members often experience intense and painful emotions that can be hard to deal with. The person who was abused may be getting help, but family and friends feel alone with their anger, pain and frustration. There is no right way to react, however there are things you can do to help you feel less overwhelmed…” (http://www.openingthecircle.ca/defining-abuse/for-families-friends-of-survivors)
Additional Resources for Parents, Caregivers and Allies Supporting a Loved One Affected by Sexual Violence
- 15 Self And Community Care Ideas For The Holiday Weekend — Taking care of yourself, survivors, and responding to rape myths https://www.buzzfeed.com/rusl/15-self-and-community-care-ideas-for-the-holidays-1ulnu?utm_term=.to11oPPXPl#.vtrEqOOpOw
- A Letter of Advice for Friends, Family, and Supporters of Survivors — On supporting survivors (http://endrapeoncampus.org/eroc-blog/2015/11/23/dear-friends-family-members-and-other-loved-ones-of-college-students)
- Dispelling Myths about Sexual Assault — A resource that speaks about false ideas that shame and blame survivors of sexual assault for the violence that was committed against them (rather than holding abusers responsible for their actions) (http://sacha.ca/resources/myths-and-lies)
- Allies in Healing, By Laura Davis (Book) — Few books exist that are for supporting loved ones who have experienced sexual violence. This book is meant for partners of survivors of childhood sexual assault, but will have important relevant information for anyone who is supporting someone with trauma.
How Does Trauma Affect Us?
Trauma can show up differently in everyone. It can be subtle and unexpected, or blatant and impossible to ignore. For example, you might be wondering why your child is more irritable or why they are experiencing panic attacks. Below is a video and a website that can help explain what trauma looks like in our brains and bodies, and how this can affect our everyday lives.
- ‘Trauma and the Brain’ (Video) — What happens in the body and brain after someone is overwhelmed by something beyond their control (a traumatic event) “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-tcKYx24aA
- Emotional and Psychological Trauma: Healing from Trauma and Moving On (Help guide). Tips on how to dealing with traumatic events, both first-hand and vicariously https://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/coping-with-emotional-and-psychological-trauma.htm
*NOTE: Sexual violence impacts more than just the person who experienced it first-hand. Sometimes, when someone we love has experienced a traumatic event it can cause secondary trauma, or vicarious trauma, to the people around them. As parents, it is just as important to take care of yourself as it is to take are of your child. Please use the self-care tips provided in this resource to protect yourself from burning out and maintain the best possible support for the person you care so much about! Check out these resources to learn more:
- Self-Care for Friends and Family — For tips on how to take care of yourself while supporting your child (https://rainn.org/articles/self-care-friends-and-family)
- Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others (book) by Connie Burk and Laura van Dernoot Lipsky
What Services are Available to Me?
Below are some organizations that you can contact for emotional or legal support at any point. You might have questions related to sexual assault or on being a support that you don’t want to put pressure on your child to have to answer for you. There are organizations that offer supports for parents of a survivors that are available to you so that you don’t have to do this alone.
- Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres — Sexual Assault Centres in Ontario offer confidential and free counselling to survivors and their loved ones. You can contact a centre to ask about individual or group counselling, getting connected or reach a counsellor by phone at any time by calling a sexual assault centre crisis line. To find resources and support near you, visit http://www.sexualassaultsupport.ca/support/
- The Toronto Rape Crisis Center/ Multicultural Women Against Rape (TRCC/MWAR) — if you need immediate support when dealing with a crisis related to sexual violence, could include: safety planning, crisis intervention, strategies to support a loved one, dealing with vicarious trauma, etc. (Crisis-line free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 416–597–8808, OR Admin: 416–597–1171)
- The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic- If your loved one is in need of legal support, the ‘Independent Legal Advice Program’ can offer free legal advice from a non-judgemental perspective on a range of legal issues, anywhere from immigration and family law to sexual assault. (Phone: 416–323–9149 website: http://schliferclinic.com/how-we-can-help/legal-services/ila/)
- Family Services Toronto — Offers programs for parents to connect with other parents, working to strengthen family dynamics and community ties. Focuses on healthy communication, boundaries, and trust. (Phone: 416–595–9618)
- Child and Youth Services — Works collaboratively with youth and their families to expand their skills and navigate systems so that they can successfully achieve their goals and improve their well-being. (For more information call: 416–924–2100)
- Boost Child and Youth Advocacy Centre — Offers resources for parents of children and youth who are affected by sexual violence (https://boostforkids.org/tips/parents/)
- Distress Line — 24/7 line for if you are in crisis, feeling suicidal or in need emotional support (phone: 416–408–4357)
- Good2Talk — 24/7 hour line for postsecondary students (phone: 1–866–925–5454)
- LGBTQ Youth Line 4:00–9:30 PM Sunday-Friday (Toll-Free: 1–800–268–9688 Text: 647–694–4275)
- Trans Lifeline Hotline staffed by transgender people for transgender people 24/7 (Toll free: 1–877–330–6366)
- Support Service for Male Survivors of Sexual Assault: 24/7 (Phone: 1–888–887–0015)
How Can I Learn More and Get Involved?
Sometimes after we or someone we love experiences sexual violence, we feel compelled to learn about the larger social problem, or to connect with others who are passionate about this issue. It can be validating to know that you are not alone. Below are some documentaries about gender-based violence. You can also connect with an organization (listed above) that is doing this work to find out what you can do to get involved in the movement to end gender-based violence.
- ‘The Hunting Ground’ (Netflix) — A documentary about the epidemic of sexual assaults of on post-secondary campuses, and the failure of administrations to be responsible and accountable for the violence
- ‘A Better Man’ — Documentary that follows a women’s journey of confronting her ex-abusive partner, as she seeks justice and healing through holding her ex-partner accountable for the harm he caused her. (https://tvo.org/article/current-affairs/shared-values/-a-better-man-shifting-the-conversation-on-violence-against-women)