Letter to the Editor: Don’t forget to support survivors of sexual assault

By Autumn Daniels

The last few months, women and men all over the world have shed some light of the reality of sexual violence. Social media and news outlets have been flooded with disclosures of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Allegations have been made against a significant number of directors, producers, actors and politicians by dozens of women and men. During times like these, we often get so caught up in our shock of who was just accused of what that we forget one basic thing: supporting survivors.

The saturation of news coverage of these stories can be re-traumatizing and triggering for survivors or to loved ones of survivors, as it may remind them of their own experiences of sexual violence. While there is a great deal of support being seen for survivors, there is also a great deal of victim-blaming ideals that are being given media coverage. This can make survivors feel even more isolated, emotionally exhausted and as though no one supports them.

Whether we know it or not, we all know someone who has been the victim of sexual violence. Although there should be an emphasis on the prevention of sexual violence, we need to recognize those who have already been victims, and we need to be supportive allies.

Here are some ways you can support survivors during times like these: 1) Listen to survivors and believe them. 2) Educate yourselves about sexual assault. 3) Speak up and speak out against misogynistic ideals that perpetuate rape culture.

If you are a survivor and need some support, here are some resources in the local community that you can reach out to:
1) Rape, Advocacy, Counseling and Education Services
Office number: 217-344-6298
Rape crisis hotline number: 217-384-4444

2) University of Illinois Women’s Resources Center
Office number: 217-333-3137

Autumn is a graduate student in Social Work. 

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