If they confide in you about sexual assault, how you react is very important

By Mpho Motsie-Mabuda

Sex is a beautiful thing, sex is life, but it also has a dark and cruel side like sexual assault, rape, sadism, and others.

Sexual assault and rape are mostly associated with women and sadly kids but it can happen to anyone.

It can also happen to men in and out of prison. Sexual assault and rape are shockingly common.

But we are never taught how to react or what to say when someone comes to you with their story.

We need to learn to respond in a respectful and compassionate way and know what not to say.

People need to be aware of what sexual assault and rape are because there is still unfortunately a blurred line on what consent is.

Consent should be enthusiastically given, saying “YES” to sex without feeling forced, under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Being fully conscious and of legal age.

When someone opens up to you about their story, how you react is very important and it could have an impact on their healing process.

This is regardless of when it happened. It could be a few minutes, hours, days, a month, or even years ago.

The thing about sexual assault is that some people can overcome it and go on to have fulfilling lives.

Others however unfortunately can’t move past it. What people need to know is that it can leave a huge emotional scar.

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This scar can affect how you view sex, even consensual sex with someone you love and who loves you back.

It is one of the most horrible things that can happen to a human being. When a survivor comes to you, don’t:

1. Interrupt them – let them tell you their whole story without you asking them questions. Listen without saying a word until they finish.

2. Don’t give advice – It is not about you; it is about them. People deal with things in their own
way. Let them guide you on what they want to do next.

3. Don’t ask inappropriate questions like what were they wearing, if they were drunk, did they lead the perpetrator on? No one has the right to someone else’s body period!

What you can say to them is: “I am sorry for what happened to you. Thank you for telling me and trusting me.

“You are so brave. How can I help you? Whatever you decide I will be with you every step of the way.”

One of the most important things you need to do is to keep it confidential unless they ask you not to.

Don’t go around telling everyone who is willing to listen that this person who trusted you got sexually assaulted.

It is not your story to tell to the whole community. If you or anyone you know has ever experienced sexual assault or rape, I Am Sorry! You can contact me for assistance.

Mpho Motsie-Mabuda is a Relationship, Intimacy, and Sex Coach. You can reach her on 063 680 5704

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