Startling Beauty: Rape, Pregnancy and Restoration

Rape takes too much BUT I, for one, have gained more than I have lost. I have been startled by beauty in places it doesn’t belong. I see it on a bloodied cross, and bitterness loses its power. I see it on the face of the man who keeps his vows to me and fear releases its grip- Startling Beauty My Journey From Rape To Restoration by Heather Gemmen. 

This picture is of Heather and her daughter Rachel. Rachel was conceived from rape but was given life and love by her mother and her mother’s husband.

I read Heather Gemmen’s testimony of rape, pregnancy and restoration at a time in my life when I needed it the most. I was raped 10 years ago but it wasn’t until 2 years after the rape that I began to acknowledge what had occurred and began to remember certain details. I sought spiritual guidance and began seeing a counselor but I was still searching. I was researching for answers, hope and comfort. I found all of that and more in Heather’s book and a few other testimony books. It helped me to know what I was not alone, I wasn’t crazy and that I was going to make it!! 

Here are a few excerpts from an interview with Heather about her book and testimony. To read the entire article please checkout this link

“Rape,” she wrote in Startling Beauty, “is ugliness at its basest form. Rape destroys innocence and cultivates bitterness. It steals security and extends fear. It kills hope and fosters shame. Rape leaves no room for beauty.”

What followed the actual incident was a nightmare scenario: Gemmen endured the post-rape investigation, isolated in her terror and pain and relying on the prayers of friends to see her through the crisis. And then she found out that she was pregnant from the rape.

Yet Startling Beauty, though it admits of “ugliness,” “destruction,” and “bitterness,” is a story that does leave room for beauty. Gemmen writes with considerable candor about the conflicts in her marriage, the stillbirth of a third son prior to the rape, the wreck of her friendships, her struggle as a Christian with taking an (ultimately ineffective) post-rape abortifacient, and her painful discovery that she — a person committed to racial reconciliation and living in a diverse neighborhood — harbored powerful racist feelings.

But Gemmen also writes about the restorative power of God’s grace in her life. Her husband, Steve, became her chief support. “He was so amazing through that process. He was so strong even though this was as much an attack on him as it was on me,” she said. Her friends, family and church family also rallied around. And Gemmen was emotionally restored to the degree that both she and Steve eagerly accepted the unexpected baby, Rachael, as a gift from God.

I want to share some information that I learned about rape and abortion. In no way am I being insensitive or pushing my views on anyone. I am 100% pro-life in all situations. If I had gotten pregnant when I was raped, I would have a 10-year-old child now. The thought of that brings so many emotions to my mind. I thank God for His mercy and grace. I told myself back then, if you’re pregnant, you’re keeping the baby. Thank God I did not have to make that decision, I know thats it a horrible one to have to make.

**Please read the information below and share your thoughts on here and not FB please.**

Pro-life Views about women being pregnant from rape:

For too long rape has been used to justify abortion and side-step the real issue: is it ever right to take an innocent human life?
No matter how unfair or horrible a situation might be, we can never justify killing another innocent human being to try to alleviate mental or emotional anguish.

It is unjust for a woman to be pregnant from a rapist, but it is a greater injustice to kill the blameless child. Unfortunately, in this case, injustice cannot be avoided. We must do our best to redeem the situation – forgiving the guilty, and helping the innocent.
As far as the well-being of the rape victim, the emotional trauma she’s been through is not lessened by abortion – it’s only compounded by another experience of violence. One study states, “In the majority of these cases, the pregnant victim’s problems stem more from the trauma of rape than from the pregnancy itself.”4
We must extend God’s love for the rape victim, offering her the compassion and support she so desperately needs. In the rare cases when pregnancy occurs, that support and reassurance is all the more vital. But we must also expose the lies that tell a woman who abortion is the easy way out. In the words of one experienced counselor, “Abortion does not un-rape a woman.”5
Written by Sharon Bennett Researched by Bob Miller

Statics about pregnancy occurring after rape:

Despite what you may have heard, pregnancy due to rape is extremely rare. A one-year study in Washington, DC, showed only one pregnancy in more than 300 rape cases. A similar Chicago study revealed no pregnancies resulting from rape in the past nine years.1Overall, less than 1% of the women who are raped become pregnant.2 Only one out of every 25,000 abortions is performed because of a pregnancy occurring from rape. More than 98% of all abortions are done simply because the mother does not want to have the baby.3

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Signs of A Potential Rapist

There is not a particular look that a rapist will have but there are certain behaviors/characteristics that you should look out for. I do not want to place fear in women, I want to open their eyes, educate, empower and encourage them. Ladies please be safe. Seek God, pray and ask Him for guidance and protection regarding your day to day activities and your love life. Be wise, be aware and be safe. Below are warning signs that your date, boyfriend, fiance’ or husband maybe dangerous. Please do not ignore  or make excuses for the warning signs that your man is being abusive, aggressive or insensitive to your feelings, body or personal space. If your gut tells you to leave then get up and go, don’t question it. Your gut feeling is the Holy Spirit warning you. If you find yourself in danger, bring as much attention to yourself as you can and try to run and get away. To read the entire article and a detailed description of the list below, checkout the link that is posted at the bottom of this post.

Signs of A Potential Rapist

1) Insensitivity for others/emphasis on self

2) Belittling behavior or attitudes towards others

3) Negating behavior or comments

4) Hostile and/or threatening language

 5) Bullying

6) Excessive anger

7) Brooding/ revenge

8. Obsession

9) Extreme mood swings

10) Physical tantrums

11) Jock or gorilla mentality

12) A mean drunk

13) Alcohol or drug abuse

While there are others, these behaviors are serious indicators of a potential rapist. This short list should acquaint you with the basics. Not all men are rapists, but a person like this has a higher probability than others. You not only find these traits among rapists and abusers, but also professional criminals. Philosophically there is little difference between such, they are all selfish. Most often it is just a matter of degrees, style and choice of victims.

Real Men Don’t Rape

Real men accept the responsibility to not harm another person.

When I was 17, I was in a summer program at my university before the semester started. One night, many of the students were sitting outside drinking cheap liquor. I wasn’t a drinker at the time, so I only sipped a little. When it was time for our curfew, we all went into the dorm. A female classmate of mine had been drinking so I walked her to the floor of her dorm room. I didn’t think she was drunk so I didn’t walk her to her room. It turned out that she was drunk and some how ended up in a male classmate’s room. She was in and out of conciousness and unable to defend herself as several of our male classmates under dressed her, fondled her and one of them raped her. The next day the police were called, the boy was kicked out of school, the girl’s parents removed her from the school and that was my first encounter with rape. The boy’s in that situation weren’t real men. They were immature boys that violated an innocent girl. Should the girl have been drinking to the point that she could barely stand, no, should she have been wondering around the dorm unable to defend herself, no, but did they have the right to take advantage of her and have sex with her without her consent NO! Real men don’t rape.

Here is an article from about men and rape. I found the information to be very informative.

*It is never OK to force yourself on a woman, even if she teases you *dresses provocatively or leads you on *she says “no” and you think she means “yes”

*you’ve had sex before with her

*you’ve paid for her dinner or given her expensive gifts *you think women enjoy being forced to have sex or want to be persuaded *the woman is under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Rape is a crime of violence. It is motivated primarily by desire to control and dominate, rather than by sex. It is illegal.

If you are getting a double message from a woman, speak up and clarify what she wants. If you find yourself in a situation with a woman who is unsure about having sex or is saying “no,” back off. Suggest talking about it.

Do not assume you know what your partner wants; check out your assumptions.

Be sensitive to women who are unsure whether they want to have sex. If you put pressure on them, you may be forcing them.

Do not assume you both want the same degree of intimacy. She may be interested in some sexual contact other than intercourse. There may be several kinds of sexual activity you might mutually agree to share.

Stay in touch with your sexual desires. Ask yourself if you are really hearing what she wants. Do not let your desires control your actions.

Communicate your sexual desires honestly and as early as possible.

If you have any doubts about what your partner wants, STOP. ASK. CLARIFY.

Your desires may be beyond your control, but your actions are within your control. Sexual excitement does not justify forced sex.

Do not assume her desire for affection is the same as a desire for intercourse.

Not having sex or not “scoring” does not mean you are not a “real man.” It is OK not to “score.”

A woman who turns you down for sex is not necessarily rejecting you as a person; she is expressing her decision not to participate in a single act at that time.

No one asks to be raped. No matter how a woman behaves, she does not deserve to have her body used in ways she does not want.

“No” means no. If you do not accept a woman’s “no,” you might risk raping someone whom you thought meant “yes.”

Taking sexual advantage of a person who is mentally or physically incapable of giving consent (for example, drunk) is rape. If a woman has had too much to drink and has passed out, or is not in control of herself, having sex with her is rape.

The fact that you were intoxicated is not a legal defense to rape. You are responsible for your actions, whether you are sober or not.

Be aware that a man’s size and physical presence can be intimidating to a woman. Many victims report that the fear they felt based on the man’s size and presence was the reason why they did not fight back or struggle.

Note: Men can be victims of rape and have the same rights to counseling and legal action as women do.

No Means No: Tips To Stay Safe On A Date

In the U.S date rape is committed every two minutes. lists tips to stay safe and prevent date rape. Every woman needs to know how to have fun but stay safe and be wise while having a night on the town. Rape is never a woman’s fault, no matter what she wears or where she goes. No means no!! We as women need to have a plan and be alert when we are out alone in the community. Please review the tips below and keep them in mind the next time you are out on a date. For Christian women, always pray God’s protection over yourself before you go on a date and ALWAYS listen to the Holy Spirit and seek peace. If you don’t have peace in your spirit, don’t go. If you get a troubled feeling and your out, get up and go home or call someone to get you. Never second guess yourself.


  • Trust your instincts! If you feel uncomfortable in any way DO NOT TRY TO NORMALIZE IT! Tell your date you are sick and about to vomit, or get out of the situation some way. Never doubt your instincts or say you are misjudging him/her. Many look back and realize they had uncomfortable feelings before something bad happened.
  • Keep your wits about you- stay sober.
  • If all else fails drink water, or mix coke and sprite to look like a drink.
  • Go to parties with a sober friend or a designated observer who is not drinking, who can watch and protect you.
  • Always carry your own car keys to get away and use as weapons.
  • Bring emergency cash for a cab ride home and don’t spend it. You may need it for other situations, like being dumped on the roadside or something. If in a foreign country, always possess the name, front desk phone number and your hotel address, (but never your room number) written in a language the cabbie will know. Leave information about where you’ll be, with whom, and when you should return to your room- and how someone might find you.
  • Be cautious of large punch bowls or drinks served by others as drugs are easily slipped into them.
  • Open your drinks yourself, and don’t share drinks.
  • If they have any sexually oriented items that make you feel uncomfortable, don’t say anything. Just get out of there!
  • Don’t go out with strangers.
  • Call your parents if you are stranded somewhere- or a friend who will help. What’s the worst thing you parents can do compared to being raped, killed, or any other unfortunate things? Never feel that you can’t call a parent or a close friend.
  • Place several people that love you and would answer and respond to your calls on speed dial. Then, if you are ever in a compromising situation, just hit one number and call without anyone knowing.
  • If the worst should happen, get to the nearest emergency room immediately. Do not bathe, change your clothes or wait until morning. This could compromise or destroy evidence that you were raped and make it much more difficult for the authorities to build a case against your assailant. Physical evidence is your greatest weapon against the person who hurt you.
  • Do not wait to tell someone what happened to you. Do so immediately. It can be extremely painful to recount the incident so soon after it happened, but the longer you wait, the greater the danger of it becoming a “he said/she said” situation, especially if your assailant is famous or well-respected in the community.


  • If he/she starts touching tell them forcefully to stop and walk away, preferrably to a place where people are.
  • Always stay alert and aware of your situation.
  • In some cultures, Western women are perceived as “easy.” This creates many problems for traveling women, like an unexpected danger because you may not have done anything that you perceive as provocative. To be safe, NEVER ASSUME THAT THERE IS A NON-SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A MAN AND A WOMAN- no matter what age- AND ACT ACCORDINGLY. In many cultures, men and women are never casual, asexual friends and if you assume there is a sexual undercurrent (even if it is the last thing you’d imagine) prepare to protect yourself.
  • If in a group, look out for each other and don’t let group members wander off alone or with someone unknown to the group.
  • If the offender/rapist is trying to touch or assault you, put your hand in front of you and recite “STOP IT” or kick them in their groin. Never throw a punch unless necessary, it may give easy access to assault you even more.

To read more of this article and review 17 tips on how to prevent date rape go to 
From National Studies Of College Women 
* 84% of women who were raped knew their assailants. 
* 57% of rapes occurred on a date. 
* 25% of men surveyed believed that rape was acceptable if: the women asks the man out; if the man pays for the date, or the woman goes back to the man’s room after the date. 
* 33% of males surveyed said they would commit rape if they definitely could escape detection. 
* 84% of male students who had committed acts that clearly met the legal definition of rape said what they had done was definitely not rape. 
* 75% of male and 55% of female students in an occurrence of date rape had been drinking or using drugs. 
* Only a quarter to a third of women whose sexual assaults met the legal definition of rape considered themselves rape victims.

Remove The Mask and Break The Silence

Behind each human face is a hidden world that no one can see. We cannot continue to seek outside ourselves for the things we need from within.The demons will haunt us if we remain afraid. Silence is one of the great victims of modern culture. -John O’Donohue

1 in 3 women have been raped. 1 in 4 girls have been sexually abused. With stats this high, it is clear that the many women and children are hurting. Many of us have gone through hurtful things at the hands of a man that we trusted, whether that is our father, brother, uncle, cousin, teacher, boss, boyfriend, neighbor or husband. Please know that what happened to you was not your fault. No matter how a woman dresses, where she goes, what she says or doesn’t say, NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO VIOLATE HER. What you have the right to do now is to BREAK FREE!! Don’t waste another day walking around in silence and shame. PLEASE tell someone, a trusted friend, your parents, your pastor, counselor, social worker, your partner, someone. 

If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, incest, rape or attempted rape, I can’t express enough the importance of you seeking help and breaking free of the pain, shame, depression, fear, anger and many other emotions you may feel. The mask that you wear may protect you from those around you knowing, but it’s not healing your past pain, it’s actually killing you softly. I hid in silence and didn’t tell anyone about the rape for two years. Those two years were filled with confusion, anger, shame, low self esteem and fear. I wish that I knew then what I know now. I wish someone had educated me on what rape was and what to do if it ever happened to me. Back in 2000 I was ignorant to those things and therefore didn’t know how to protect myself or recover after the fact. My mission now is to educate, empower and encourage females in the areas of rape, abuse, relationships, sex and self esteem/worth.

Please, I urge you to break the silence today. Pray and ask God who you should disclose your past pain and experiences too. Research local counseling agencies or rape crisis centers or hotlines in your area. The first step is to admit to yourself that you’ve been abused, the second step is share the abuse with someone else that you trust and the third step is to decide on what type of support or treatment you need. Please don’t believe that the pain will just go away on it’s on over time. Time does not heal wounds, Jesus does! He already took our pain on the cross when He died on Calvary and rise from the dead for our sins. We don’t have to carry our own burdens! 

After I told my campus minister about the rape, she encouraged me to seek counseling, which I did right away. I was scared but I knew that I needed help, so I went. I did cancel my first appointment and then cried the whole way to my second appointment but I went! It was one of the best decisions that I had ever made!  My counselor encouraged me to tell my parents. When I told my parents I felt so much better. I was no longer alone, they knew, they still loved me, supported me and prayed over me. I can’t stress enough the importance of breaking the silence and seeking help and support. Trust me, it will be the best decision you have ever made. Email me at is you need assistance locating resources or a counselor in your area. 

  Psalm 55:22 (New International Version) 

 22 Cast your cares on the LORD
       and he will sustain you;
       he will never let the righteous fall. 

Psalm 147:3 (King James Version) 

 3He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.

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5 Myths about Love and Sex After Rape

Here are 5 myths that I had to break free and get delivered from as a rape survivor. Many survivors struggle with negative thoughts and wondering if they should even have hope for tomorrow, let alone love, marriage and a healthy sex life in the future. To those that maybe struggling with the thoughts below, I pray that you seek God for peace, comfort and restoration. I also encourage you to find a counselor to help you organize your thoughts/feelings and to help you develop a plan of action that will set you on the road to freedom, joy, peace and happiness. This too shall past. You won’t always feel so angry, afraid and confused. Peace, love, marriage and healthy sex are attainable with time and healing, no matter how far away that may seem to be today. I know where I was at when I was at my lowest point BUT GOD. God is able, God is bigger, and God is faithful. Just trust Him and give it all over to Him. He promised to never leave you or forsake you and He promised to never give you more than you can bear.

1. You won’t be able to love or trust again.

It’s important to understand the difference between fear and wisdom. You don’t need to be afraid to love or trust again but don’t allow any and everyone into your circle or heart either. You’ve been through a lot but God is faithful. He loves you and He does not want to see you alone and afraid. Tell Him why you’re hurting and what makes it difficult to trust and love. Read your bible and study 1 Cor 13, the love chapter, and learn what true love is. In time, at your own pace and with the Holy Spirits’ help and the help of a counselor, you will learn to let your guard down and trust and love again. There is no need to rush but know that there is hope. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Matthew 11:27-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

2. You are no longer able to view yourself as pure or clean.

The devil wants you to think that you aren’t pure, clean, worthy of love or holy. He will tell you all sorts of lies to keep you isolated and alone. What happened to you was not your fault and you are beautiful in God’s sight. Below are some things that the word of God says about you. Know that God loves you and He wants to give you beauty for ashes.

Isaiah 61:3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

Genesis 1:27 So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Get with a counselor and work on your self image and the way you see you. Quote scriptures about who you are in Christ. Carry the scriptures with you, put them up on your bathroom mirror, whatever you need to do.

3. You won’t be able to get married because you are damaged goods.

A year after meeting Eddie, my husband of two years, I found myself having a crush on him BUT my negative thoughts started kicking in and I started telling myself “what if he doesn’t’ like you because of what happened to you.” “What if you’re not good enough for him.” I was having major anxiety about being able date a loving, kind, gentlemen, man of God who was a virgin! He was a virgin and I was a rape survivor. The two words just didn’t seem like they should go in the same sentence. I was no longer seeing my counselor so I talked to God a lot and I casted down my fear and anxiety. I read my word and I talked to an older married Christian friend of mine about my concerns and fears. She was very encouraging; it’s important to keep good friends in your circle who want to see you walking confidently in the things of God. Eddie and I became good friends and in the midst of a conversation about my But God testimony book idea, I told him about the rape. Eddie was more than loving, understanding and encouraging. My fear fell right off of me after that.

If you desire to be married, than God desires that for you too. Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Continue to seek counsel and speak the word of God over yourself. Read Christian books about healing, restoration and marriage, to prepare yourself for marriage one day. See yourself as a wife and ask God to help you clean house of all the things that may hinder you from getting there. What happened to you was not your fault. Everyone needs and deserves to be loved. If you desire to get married one day, please know that you can. 

4. You won’t be able to have a healthy sex life.

Even though you were raped or sexually abused, your body is still beautiful, precious, sacred and the temple of the Holy Spirit. You don’t have to become promiscuous or hide from men or sex. As you begin to walk in your healing and receive your break through from the hurt, pain and shame, you will become stronger, more confident and possible desire to be sexual. While God made sex and He wants us to enjoy it and not be afraid of it, He has reserved it ONLY for married folk.

1 Cor 6:18-20 18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

When I told my mom about the assault and I told her I was already in counseling, she said “good because I do not want you to carry these negative feelings into your marriage.” She knew that I needed to be free from the pain and fear so that I could have passionate, worry and fear free sex. God is so faithful!! My love making with my husband is pure, worry free, holy, passionate, loving and safe. I am so grateful to my campus minister for insisting that I seek counsel so that I could get free and walk in my purpose. You will be able to enjoy sex again in marriage when you are ready. Don’t feel pressure but know that you can reach that goal one day.

5. You will forever be fearful and bitter towards men.

If a man raped you or sexually abused you, it is only natural to experience feelings of anger, fear, bitterness or hate. Though what the person did to you was horrible and unfair, it only hurts you and destroys your life if you continue to walk around with those feelings in your heart. You must find a way to give your pain to God and allow Him to heal you and restore you to a place of peace and love.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Matthew 6:14-15 14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Remember that every man is not out to hurt you. Try your best not to allow you’re hurtful and life changing situation to control your life and your thoughts. You will have to speak to yourself and remind yourself that every man is not rapist, everyone is not out to get you, you do not have to walk around bitter, angry and afraid.

2 Tim 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

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Healing For Her Soul: Shining Light on The Darkness

“If the occurrence of rape were audible, its decibel level equal to its frequency, it would overpower our days and nights, interrupt our meals, our bedtime stories, howl behind our love-making, an insistent jackhammer of distress. We would demand an end to it. And if we failed to locate its source, we would condemn the whole structure. We would refuse to live under such conditions.” – Patricia Weaver Francisco, Telling: A Memoir of Rape and Recovery

 I wrote this poem when I was going through and preparing to receive my healing.

The Story of A Hurting Woman


As she looked into his eyes

She knew right then

That she’d never look at men

The same way again

He stole her innocence

He crushed her pride

But she told no one

Her shame she tried to hide

To this day the thought of it

Still makes her want to lose control

A friend she thought he was to her

Some of the events of that day

Are still a blur

For some reason

That night she did not yell

Because of the embarrassment

Her story she did not tell

He ripped at her clothes

As her mind went blank

Into a secret safe place

In her mind she sank

To hear his name

Still makes her want to cry

He had no right to violate her

But he did have the right to die

A part of her died that day

The part that thought the world was a safe place

The part that trusted men

Now avoids a strangers face

She hurts to this day

And there’s nothing anyone can say

To erase what has been done

But what she did not know was

She wasn’t the only one

By Joanna Willis

I was sexually assaulted in September of 2000. It wasn’t until 2002 that I was mentally, emotionally and spiritually ready to acknowledge what happened to me and deal with the effects that the assault had on my life. I was fearful, angry, bitter, hateful and distrusting of men. Once I was ready to admit that I had been assaulted, I had to deal with the emotional rollercoaster that followed. 2002 was the perfect year to begin my healing process because I rededicated my life to Christ in Jan of that year.  I was going to church, reading my word, applying the bible to my everyday life and attending counseling. I wouldn’t have been able to handle the hurt and pain during that season without the Holy Ghost.

Part of the reason why I did not seek help immediately after my assault was because I did not know what to do or where to go.  I’m not blaming my parents, college or church, but the fact of the matter is, I hadn’t been  educated regarding what sexual assault was, how to protect myself or what to do if I was victimized. My own ignorance, mixed with shame, fear and embarrassment kept me silent and allowed my attacker to go free.

It is vital for everyone to know what to do to if they or someone they know has been assaulted. Also, it’s very important for the loved ones of the survivors (I will not use the word victim) to know what they can do to support them. Please read the following info below.

If You Have Been Sexually Assaulted

  • Try to get to a place where you feel safe.
  • Reach out for support. Call someone you trust, like a friend or family member. You are not alone; there are people who can give you the support you need.
  • Contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline (toll-free 1-800-656-4673) or a local rape crisis hotline are resources for you.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Medical care is important to address any injuries you may have and to protect against sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.
  • Most importantly, know that the assault is not your fault.

You have the right to…

  • Be treated with respect and dignity.
  • Privacy. That means you can refuse to answer any questions about the sexual assault, your sexual orientation, your sexual history, your medical history (including HIV status) and your mental health history.
  • Have your conversations with a sexual assault counselor/advocate remain confidential.
  • Decide whether or not you want to report the assault to the police.
  • Not be judged based on your race, age, class, gender or sexual orientation.
  • Have a sexual assault counselor/advocate accompany you to medical, law enforcement and legal proceedings.
  • Request that someone you are comfortable with stay with you in the examination room.
  • Ask questions and get answers regarding any tests, exams, medications, treatments or police reports.
  • Be considered a survivor of sexual assault, regardless of the offender’s relationship to you.

If you are considering filing a police report…

  • Try not to bathe, shower, change your clothes, eat, drink, smoke, gargle or urinate prior to the exam.
  • Seek medical attention for an exam and evidence collection as soon as possible after the assault.
  • Bring a change of clothes with you.
  • You have the right to have a sexual assault counselor/advocate with you during your medical exam.
  • Reporting to the police is your choice.

Remember, you are not alone and you are not to blame for what happened.

A Word to Support Persons

The survivor of sexual assault has been through a very traumatic experience and it is important that she/he receive support, assistance, and accurate information. Your being there in a supportive way is immensely valuable.

Allow the survivor to make choices and remain in control. Give reassurance that she/he is not to blame. Listen as she/he talks about the experience. Be accepting of the survivor’s many emotional reactions including anger, fear, anxiety, and depression.

Believe what the survivor tells you. Know that revealing this experience takes a great deal of strength and courage. Letting the survivor know that you believe what they have told you and that the assault was not their fault is extremely important.

Be respectful of privacy. Don’t tell anyone about the assault without the survivor’s permission. The survivor has only chosen to tell you and it may be hurtful or detrimental to their healing process and recovery.

Be a good listener. Here are some things to keep in mind when a survivor chooses to talk with you:

  • DO concentrate on understanding the survivor’s feelings
  • DO allow silences
  • DO let the survivor know you are glad s/he told you
  • DON’T interrogate or ask for specific details about the sexual assault
  • DON’T ask “why” questions such as “why did you go there?” or “why didn’t you scream?” or “why didn’t you go to the hospital right away?”
  • DON’T tell the survivor what you would have done or what they should have done

Let the survivor make their own decisions. Always let survivors weigh their options and decide how to proceed in their own recovery process. Telling a survivor what you think they “should do” about the options available to them can contribute to a survivor’s sense of being disempowered. Instead of taking charge, ask how you can help. Support the decisions the survivor makes, even if you don’t agree with them!

Remind the survivor that you care. Being “there” for survivors is very important. You can do this in a number of ways; by being a good listener; accompanying them if they seek medical attention or walking over with them to get counseling or crisis support at the Counseling Center; making arrangements to have dinner or coffee with them; asking the survivor “how can I be helpful”; voicing your concern by saying things like “I’m sorry that this has happened”; telling them how courageous they are; or telling them that you don’t see the survivor any differently may all be tangible ways to show that you care about the survivor.

Give the survivor space if s/he needs it. Be sensitive to the fact that the survivor might want to spend some time alone. Don’t take it personally. Survivors may just need some time to pay attention to their own needs from time to time.  

If you are a romantic partner of the survivor, ask for permission before touching or holding the survivor. Do not rush sexual contact. The survivor needs to decide when it is right to have sexual contact and to pace the intensity of involvement. Accept the fact that the survivor’s renewal of sexual interest may occur at a slow pace. Discuss the subject of sex in a non-sexual environment.