xvi Preface If a friend or loved one has experienced sexual assault: If someone you know discloses to you that they have expe- rienced unwanted sexual contact, how you respond matters. Listen to them, believe in them, do not place blame, and offer to help. A survivor does not need you to make decisions for them. Instead, lend a patient and supportive ear and offer to accompany them to places like the police department or hos- pital. Remember it takes a considerable amount of bravery to disclose experiencing sexual assault consider it an honor that they chose to tell you. Do not take the responsibility lightly. If you suspect child abuse, sexual or otherwise, you should report your concerns to an appropriate state agency. Abused children are especially vulnerable and getting them help often depends on concerned and proactive bystanders. The specific contact information for each state varies and can be found on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website (childwelfare.gov). If you witness problematic behavior: Often, people feel paralyzed to help others in need. This may be explained by the “bystander effect” that can happen when the presence of others discourages an individual from interven- ing when someone needs help. Being an “upstander” or “active bystander” is recognizing that we all have the ability to help others. If you witness problematic behavior, be it bullying or attempting to take advantage of someone sexually, remember that you have the power to make a difference. You can call the authorities if necessary, you can distract a perpetrator, you can offer assistance to a potential victim, and/or you can get oth- ers involved to help. Remembering that we, as individuals, can assist others is essential to making the world a better place. Being a supportive friend or helping a stranger in need are just some ways to make positive change. There are other actions that you can take. You can become involved in a local or national sexual assault or nonviolence organization. You can volunteer for a local rape crisis shelter. You can become
Previous Page Next Page