Sup­port them!

Coun­selling ther­a­pist says fam­ily, friends should rally around rape vic­tims

Jamaica Gleaner - - FAMILY & RELIGION - Ce­celia Camp­bell Liv­ingston Gleaner Writer fam­ilyan­dreli­gion@glean­erjm.com

“Rape is the only crime in which the vic­tim is dou­bly vi­o­lated, first by the at­tacker, and then by so­ci­ety. It is the only crime in which so­cial, reli­gious, and cul­tural core at­ti­tudes of so­ci­ety turn upon the vic­tim. In rape, so­ci­ety tends to blame or ac­cuse the women.” – Rape: The First Source­book for Women

WHEN A woman has been raped, she, un­for­tu­nately, must deal with some harsh re­al­i­ties. For many of the vic­tims, they find no so­lace in fel­low fe­males or even their own fam­ily mem­bers. They are made to feel as if ‘they brought it on them­selves’ by the dress mode or some­how by their ac­tions. Many women who have been vi­o­lated in this way some­times take the easy but painful way out and do not re­port the crime as they fear be­ing placed un­der so­ci­ety’s mi­cro­scope and be­ing found want­ing. Guilt, feel­ings of be­ing pow­er­less, de­pres­sion, and other emo­tions will pre­vent her from open­ing up to even those she trusts, mak­ing the act an even harder bur­den to carry. It is even more dif­fi­cult when the rape is car­ried out by a mem­ber of the fam­ily or some­one close to the vic­tim. It is sad, but some moth­ers and other fam­ily mem­bers pre­fer to keep the mat­ter hush­hush, fear­ing ‘shame and scan­dal’ in the fam­ily, while for some moth­ers, the thought of los­ing out on the main bread­win­ner means shut­ting up the vic­tim. This forces many vic­tims to suf­fer in si­lence and in the end do­ing more harm to them­selves than good. Fam­ily and Re­li­gion reached out to Ker­rian Johnson of KJ Coun­selling Ther­apy, who stressed the im­por­tance of proper sup­port for rape vic­tims. “The ef­fects of rape can be long term. This all de­pends on the sup­port given and the in­di­vid­ual will­ing­ness to re­ceive and ac­cept help. For her, the main task is get­ting the vic­tim to love her­self again as rape is not just a phys­i­cal vi­o­la­tion, but one that the men­tal as­pect of the in­di­vid­ual and must be dealt with care­fully. “Ar­eas af­fected are self­es­teem, self-con­fi­dence, self­worth, trust, and, of course, the many “what if’s” that fol­low. She will be able to love her­self again but has to go through the heal­ing process,” said Johnson.

Ac­cord­ing to Johnson, fam­ily and friends can be sup­port­ive of a vic­tim, but the last thing she will need is some­one who passes judg­ment.

“Don’t do the blame game, and al­low the in­di­vid­ual time and space to heal. Be sup­port­ive even if you think it could have been avoided. Give com­fort, know­ing she is go­ing through a rough time. En­cour­age her to seek help – coun­selling,” she points out.

UN­DER­STAND­ING

If the vic­tim is not ready to do any of those things, Johnson said the key thing is not to get im­pa­tient with her but un­der­stand that it will take time for her to seek a so­lu­tion.

“This is where pa­tience and un­der­stand­ing are a must. It is not easy to get into a rape vic­tim’s mind un­less she re­ally al­low you to,” said Johnson.

“Rape vic­tims de­velop a process called “mind block­ing” to help cope and live a nor­mal life af­ter the act. How­ever, if you can con­vince the vic­tim that you un­der­stand what she has been through and sym­pa­thise and gain her trust, then she will open up to you,” she said, adding that this is the route fam­ily mem­bers and friends should take.

If that vic­tim is mar­ried, Johnson shared that the hus­band would be called on to ex­er­cise a lot of un­der­stand­ing, es­pe­cially if she shies away from the act of sex.

“Get­ting with your part­ner af­ter be­ing raped can prove to be a hard task, how­ever, as time goes by and both par­ties give and re­ceive sup­port, it will get bet­ter,” she said.

Johnson said no mat­ter how hard it is, vic­tims must get help or they could see their lives be­ing ru­ined for­ever.

“You will never live to your true po­ten­tial. You will be alive, but just ex­ist­ing, not liv­ing. Don’t not al­low rape to be your life. Seek help needed and use what was meant to break you to make you stronger and bet­ter. Not a vic­tim but a vic­tor.”

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