Who is a Primary victim?
A victim is defined as a person who has suffered any form of sexual abuse; the abuse could have happened in the past, in the present one single time or in multiple occasions.
Child sexual abuse impacts every person in every community around the world, regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, race and religion. It is an issue that affects all of us, but that we are often afraid to discuss.
A kid under 12 years old can never consent to sexual activity. We should take care of each other and prevent any unwanted sexual intercourse for us and the ones around us.
Sexual abuse can be contact or non-contact and it doesn't have to be forced. Many times we are exposed to unwanted sexual content without even noticing.
The Canadian Red Cross has a list of different types of contact and non-contact sexual abuse, if you are interested in reading the list, please visit: https://www.redcross.ca/how-we-help/violence-bullying-and-abuse-prevention/youth/sexual-abuse
What can I do if I'm a
Primary Victim or someone reveals they've been abused?
There is not a “right way” to respond
After being abused, it is recommended that the victim talks to someone whom he or she feels will believe and understand. If someone doesn't believe what happened, don't give up. Support the victim to tell as many people as he/she needs until finding someone that believes.
The role of the bystander when there is a disclosure
To disclose an abuse is 100% up to the victim. There are many different reasons why survivors choose to tell or not to, and again, there is not a right way to do it.
For a survivor, disclosing to someone they care about can be very difficult, so we encourage you to be as supportive and non-judgemental as possible:
- Check if they are in immediate danger, or need medical attention and help to call 911.
- Ensure they are in a safe, comfortable space away from the perpetrator. This is still important even if they have been assaulted weeks, even months before they disclose to you.
- Allow them to talk about what they are comfortable sharing, and do not pressure them for more details.
- Affirm to them that this is not their fault, and that their actions did not cause this.
- Provide information, not advice, avoid statements that say “you should…”, and instead ask questions like “Is there anything I can do to help?”
- Don’t forget to take care of yourself. It can be overwhelming helping someone through a traumatic event.
RAINN has a very good article that could help:
How to report?
It is advisable to report any kind of abuse. One of the reasons why abuse is so common is because people never report it so the abuser keeps doing it. We also understand that many times the victim doesn’t want to see the perpetrator in jail – because it is a family member or close friend – but to seek justice and safety is the survivor's right and may help in the healing process.
You don’t need proof of abuse to make a good faith report to the authorities.
Quick guide to reporting child sexual abuse – Darkness to Light
Sometimes support means providing resources.
You’re a strong supporter, but that doesn’t mean you’re equipped to manage someone else’s health. Become familiar with resources you can recommend to a survivor.
You can also help to prepare a safety plan so the victim can plan ahead of time in case he/she is in danger again. This tool from Kids Help Phone will help to make a safety plan:
"Big feelings come and go"
A storybook from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection: https://www.protectchildren.ca/pdfs/C3P_BigFeelingsComeAndGo_storybook_en.pdf
Other articles we recommend:
"It's not your fault: coping with sexual assault"
From the Canadian Resource Centre for victims of crime:
"Helping the child who has been abused"
From BOOST Child and Youth Advocacy Centre
"The effect of trauma on the brain and how it affects behaviors"
John Rigg | TEDxAugusta