Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Rights of Sexual Assault Survivors

We talk about a lot of different things on this blog, and I thought this would be a good time to step out of the fiction element and look at the real world for a minute. Many people have been sexual assaulted during their lifetimes. I was not surprised to read that boys and men have been sexually victimized -- I did research on the topic when I wrote For Women Only. In that book, the hero is a former prostitute who was also a survivor of sexual molestation as a child, and rape by three females as an adult. I did a great deal of research for that book so that I could present an accurate picture of a man who had dealt with these issues. We tend to see sexual assault as against women, but men are also affected, and not all are assaulted by other men.

Women are the most targeted, statistic wise. This may be reflected by the fact that so few men will admit they have been assaulted. Men have been taught that they should "tough it out", think of themselves as "lucky" to be "initiated" into sex by an older woman, or have think that if they were "real men" they'd never have been assaulted in the first place. When a man says "no" it means the same thing as when a woman says "no."

Today, I want to present the rights of sexual assault survivors of more than one gender. These are straightforward and make a lot of sense. Tell me what you think.

Every sexual assault survivor should have the right to:
  • be protected from future assault.
  • to be advised of the option of a civil suit
  • have legal representation that is supportive.
  • be provided with information about their rights.
  • to have the best possible collection of evidence for court.
  • have as much credibility as a victim/survivor of any other crime.
  • have access to support persons (advocates) outside of institutions.
  • have a preliminary hearing in each case when an arrest has been made
  • be believed, no matter what choices were made at the time of the assault to survive.
  • be treated with dignity and respect by medical, mental health, and legal personnel.
  • be considered a victim of sexual assault when ANY unwanted act of sex is forced on them through any type of coercion, violent or nonviolent.
  • be considered a victim of sexual assault regardless of the relationship to the assailant (including marriage, kinship, and long-term partnerships).
  • be treated in a manner that does not take control away, but that empowers the survivor to determine their own needs and how to meet those needs.
  • be provided with information about all possible options related to legal and medical procedures.
  • receive medical and mental health treatment, or participate in legal procedures only after giving one’s informed consent.
  • receive medical and mental health treatment without parental consent if the survivor is a minor.
  • be asked only those questions that are relevant to a court case or to medical treatment.
  • NOT to report an assault to the police.
  • NOT to be asked questions about prior sexual experience.
  • NOT to be exposed to prejudice against gender, race, class, age, lifestyle, experience, financial status, or occupation.
If you'd like to do some research, look up information for a friend, deal with your own abuse, or help someone who is a survivor, here are some links where I found information.

Right click on this link and "save target as" to download a 27-page pdf handbook created for survivors of sexual assault, or click it to open the document.
I want to end by reminding everyone who reads this that you are not alone. If you have been the victim of abuse, you are not at fault. You were not the one who did wrong. You were the victim. You can break out of the mindset of a victim, become an advocate for others, help yourself heal, and take charge of your recovery. I urge you to visit the sites listed here for more information.

1 comment:

Savanna Kougar said...

Aren't we all human beings, and shouldn't we all be treated that way?