Looking Forward: Supporting Survivors in the Community

by Marcus Toomey

Author’s Note: This article will endeavor to create a place for victims of sexual assault to find quick access to help and to hopefully allow their confidants to understand at least the basics of being a supporter or advocate. It is always a good time to arm yourself with information.

This list is neither designed to be comprehensive, nor is it designed to be an alternative towards long term healing or support. However, resources are available on the front lines that allow for immediate assistance in times of crisis. The following hotlines allow victims of sexual assault to call, and most them are accessible 24/7.

Resources:

U.S.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

Phone number: 1-800-273-8255

Availability: 24/7

If you feel like you are considering hurting yourself, please call this number. Furthermore, even if it is only a quick google search away, having it in your phone for you or someone you know can be very helpful in times of crisis.

Rainn-Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network

Website: https://centers.rainn.org/

Phone number800-656-4673

The Rainn site includes a resource finder based on zip code and state. These shelters and support centers can help facilitate any number of things that you are in need of.

Another site to track down resources and support in the USA is http://www.hotpeachpages.net/usa/

Finding Local Resources

Larger and seemingly less personal support systems can seem like they lack usefulness, or aren’t able to be adequately help, whether you are in a crisis or are in the healing process. This feeling is okay, and simply means exploring an option closer to home could be beneficial to you.

  1. If you are a student player, odds are your university or college has a system in place for reporting. Consider speaking to a member of the residence staff if you live on campus, or consider exploring the sexual assault office that schools have.
  2. If you currently or will soon be seeing a counselor or therapist, speak to them about your experience. If you are looking for one to speak with, many insurance providers can assist you with finding a counselor or therapist who accepts your policy.
  3. The Rainn network and hotpeachpages provide the names for smaller, more communitydriven networks that often have local specialists.

Outside the U.S.

http://www.hotpeachpages.net/a/countries.html

The master list of countries at hotpeachpages includes places all around the world. This encompasses as much of the quidditch world as I could personally name. The networks are frequently extensive and allow for many different types of care.

Reporting:

The nature of reporting an assault is understandably daunting to many who have dealt with sexual crimes.

Most reporting options will involve a few common occurrences; in-person interviews, giving written statements, acquiring physical evidence if you are in a medical center, or a request for physical evidence if you are speaking to the police.

Reporting through a school system may involve similar experiences, however, these two types of reports are likely going to be separate. Consider looking into what reporting looks like in your area or in your circumstance. Bring along a confidant or well trusted friend to support you in the process.

Reporting through your quidditch NGB is like other methods of reporting, in that the process will involve investigation, discussion, and evaluation of everything that has transpired. In our context, this has the most bearing on the sport’s community, as anything that is brought to a university won’t be released to the public, and anything brought to the police or court isn’t released directly to organizations an accused person is involved in.

Supporting a Victim:

If someone has come forward to you expressing that they have been assaulted, first consider your level of preparedness and the situation you are both in. Ask what you can do to help this person. Express affirmation of their feelings but don’t ask them to relive or revisit the experience of being assaulted.

A victim expressing that an assault happened some time ago might be asking for compassion or respect, while someone who has recently been assaulted might be seeking a feeling of safety or support in getting quick help.

Be honest with the victim if you are in a situation where you must legally call the police or a supervisor, and if you or the victim is in danger or have been harmed, call 911 or your local emergency resource as soon as you can.

DO NOT CHALLENGE THEIR UNDERSTANDING OR RECOLLECTION OF THE ASSAULT, REGARDLESS OF DISCREPANCIES YOU MAY HEAR. This can risk the victim a lot of pain.

Afterwards, consider arming yourself with further information. Read up on ways to create a safe and affirming space for this person. Respect their needs and their willingness to discuss or steer away from the issue. As long as the victim is finding comforting, productive ways to process and heal, be supportive. If serious harm or risk is coming from the victim’s coping mechanisms be vocal to them about your concern, and express to them what you see.

I will conclude this article with the closest thing to direct discussion of recent events. It is entirely possible to form complex or unpopular opinions on an issue, while simultaneously providing someone on either side of a situation with the support that they need. It is possible to have well meaning debate without dominating the discussion. It is possible to ask questions about why your experiences might be different when it comes to sex without making the discussion all about your experiences or being solipsistic. We can heal. We can accept difference. We can debate healthily.

I have to believe these things. I hope very soon we can all believe in them.

Stay safe, keep learning, stay compassionate my friends.

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