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Temi Olly: What to Do When Someone You Love Has Been Raped

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The medical definition of rape is “an unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly, or under threat of injury – against the will of a person or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent.” Also regarded as sexual assault or statutory rape, it is a very traumatic and painful situation that affects the assaulted.

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men reported experiencing rape at some time in their lives, while 1 in 20 women and men have experienced sexual violence. Those numbers are staggering.

This means that someone in your circle might have been raped but just has not said anything to you, or you might know someone that was raped.

While working with some people who have been raped, I realized that the things people say and/or do to someone who was assaulted can sometimes add to the pain or help them heal. To those who have been assaulted before, I want you to know that it was not your fault. You cannot blame yourself for someone’s lack of self-control. And though you may not see it now, it is possible to laugh and love again.

This article is not to beat or insult anyone, instead, it is to shed light on the things we can do and/or say to help someone through such a tragic situation.

Someone you know and/or love walks up to you or calls you on the phone, his/her voice is breaking and through the uncontrollable tears and the pain they manage to say “I was raped!” What do you say? What do you do? Well, whatever you do please do NOT do and/or say any of these 5 things.

1. “Ehn! Are you sure?” – The problem with this statement is that it can sound like you are asking the person if he/she is lying! If you have questions about the circumstances, ask those instead. “Where?”, “How?”, “How are you feeling?” etc but tread lightly with your questions. Let the person share what they are comfortable with sharing. Don’t bombard the person.

2. Avoid saying anything that sounds like you are blaming the person. Statements like “What did you wear?” “why did you go there alone?” “Did you scream No and/or Stop?” “Are you sure he/she heard you?” “Are you sure you didn’t lead him/her on?” sounds like you are blaming the person. The truth is that most people who have been assaulted, already blame themselves and the last thing you want to do is validate that conviction. By making such statements, you are implying that their inability to scream or say No/Stop several times, means they wanted it and that’s not true! Science tells us that people react to trauma in different ways, and by the way, all it really should take is one “No!” or “Stop!”…No means No!

3. Avoid telling them what to do.“We must report this to the authorities”, “You have to confront this person”, e.t.c.
I get that you are concerned and possibly angry; you want the assailant to pay. However, you must try as much as possible to avoid telling the person what to do. If he/she is not ready to go to the police and you keep insisting, believe it or not, you are doing more harm than good.

4. Don’t start trying to relate by talking about yourself.
I get how you might think or believe you can relate, but the truth is that unless you’ve been through such an experience, you might not be able to relate. Additionally, even if you’ve been raped before, you only have an idea of how the person feels, but you may not FULLY understand because everyone is different. The way your situation hit you might not be the same way it hit them. Try to stay in the moment and listen to how they feel.

5. Don’t be dismissive.
Don’t say things like “Pele, it happens”, “Don’t tell anyone, just forget about it” “Men will be men”. The person may already know that it happens but saying “get over it”, “forget about it” or “it happens” to everyone sounds like you are saying that their feelings do not matter!

6. Next time it happens do …___ –
Please whatever you do, DON’T SAY THIS. Not only are you implying again that there are things they could have done you’ve also just told them it will happen again! The absolute worst, please don’t do this!

7. “Are you sure you didn’t enjoy it”
Men can be raped too, but unfortunately this is what most people say and/or think about male rape survivors. Please don’t add to their pain by saying this.

So what should you do? Here are 5 quick things you can do

1) Don’t talk, just listen.

2) Be supportive.
Try asking them how you can be of help. “I’m so sorry this happened, what can I do” or “is there anything I could do to help?”

3) Don’t call them a victim, call them survivor.

4) Don’t tell them what to do, ASK them what they want to do.
Yes, you can offer options but ONLY after the person says something like “I don’t know what to do” other than that if the person says I don’t want to go to the police, don’t start talking about why they have to go to the police! Keep in mind, they’ve just been in a situation where they feel their power was taken away, you insisting on what they should or shouldn’t do and not respecting their decisions can be annoying and hurtful!

5) Get help.
You can suggest they enroll for counseling, but you should also maybe speak to a counselor and research what is out there so that you are better equipped to help this person through this period!
There are so many things you can do to help a rape survivor. Google, research…the more you know, the better you might be able to help someone.

To all survivors out there, you are strong and amazing. You are not alone, I am rooting and praying for you!

Photo Credit: Tommaso79 | Dreamstime.com

Temi Olly is a Certified Relationship Coach from the World Coach Institute. She works with people who want to build and strengthen their relationships.Temi is happily married, loves spending time with family, singing, reading, volunteering and working with people. For life & relationship tips, follow Temi on social media @TalkwithTemi Certified Relationship CoachT: 202-827-5941E: [email protected]Stay Connected: Instagram

14 Comments

  1. Kim

    June 26, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    Next to worshipping false idols this is Nigerian woman next guilty pleasures……Say it aint so ?!

  2. Ephi

    June 26, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    Great article Temi.

    I personally feel Nigerians can be very insensitive, plus we seem to have the culture of blaming the victim. So more articles like these are needed.

  3. A Real Nigerian

    June 26, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    Wonderful article!

  4. hadiza

    June 26, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    ????? great article. Two days ago, my boo was raped by her boss in the office. At least, now I know what not to say to her. ???

  5. ben nye

    June 26, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    Thank you for this article… im à rape survivor.. and have only told 2 people… I chose them wisely because I knew they would be supportivery.. I cringe when I think about the way Nigerians react to such information..

  6. Bimi

    June 26, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Awesome article!! This is something we as a culture defintely have a lot of learning to do and work to do. Thanks for this! And let’s keep doing more

  7. Mz_Danielz

    June 26, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    Take her to a teaching hospital for PEP to prevent HIV. She should also take pills

  8. Eniyan

    June 26, 2017 at 10:49 pm

    Great article. I hope people can learn from this. Soooo Temi is a certified relationship coach? How??? You’ve been married barely a year so how/what are you going to coach people??? What real life knowledge? I don’t understand how people do this! Please don’t venture into waters that YOU yourself are not equipped for? You don’t know yet if you can save yourself in a sinking ship because you have not been in one! A simulation given at some certification school is not the same as real life experience.

    • Bola

      June 29, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      Eniyan.. I have sooooo much to say about your comment but I’ll keep it as brief as I can…

      First of all to Temi – You are so fortunate bcos you have a gazillion examples to draw from David’s brothers thought he was a “small boy who knew nothing about battle” before he came with the confidence of God to conquer what they could not conquer with all their years of experience. Gideon, Samuel, Jesus (who all the people who knew him “just” the carpenters son were wondering “what could he possibly have for us” – but they all kept their eyes on the Father’s business, doing what He asked them to do and reaching the people he wanted them to reach – Don’t let the naysayers stop you from the fantastic passion, work and gift that you know God has asked you to do. Build a tough skin and plan yourself firmly in the God-fidence it will take to stand in the face of people with comments and questions like this and DO WHAT GOD will have you do regardless of them! Don’t let it make you shrink back! You are not for everyone, and that’s perfectly ok! Thoes who are wise enough to open their ears to good and sound consel will learn.. and those who are not… well… God in his mercies will help them learn in their own way if they are open. Continue to let the holy spirit embolden you, strengthen you, and lead you in spite of anyone else – including yourself!

      Now back to Eniyan – First let me say, I’m sure you are not a bad person, just responding in your human ability within the limitations of what you are able to see and perceive so this is not meant to be anything more than a cautionary words for you to think about-

      1. It’s obvious you need some more educating on the topic of relationship coaching! You didn’t ask me, but you posted so I’m happy to oblige :). Relationship coaching is NOT just about married people! There are many many types of relationships – many types of human interactions qualify; child-parent, employee – employer, inner self-outer self, team mate – team mate, boyfriend – girlfriend, and so on and so forth. Marital relationships is a part of the equation but its not all there is to life contrary to what a lot of people think.

      2. Sometimes we will face naysayers who block their opportunity to learn from all around them simply because in their pride, they assume the person they are speaking to is too young, inexperienced, childless, spouseless, stupid, unwise enough for them to learn things from. Temi doesn’t seek out for people to come to her for advice/coaching, she merely shares wise counsel from her viewpoint and encourages people to be open to seek advice from wherever they feel comfortable to (if they are more comfortable to go to someone who has been married for 60 years – whether or not that means the person has the wisdom and discernment to coach without shoving their 60 years of experience down the persons throat is another question – but if they feel more comfortable going to someone else, she encourages that they do as long as they are getting the help they feel they need. But if they like her approach and see a wisdom there they think can help them, they are welcome to come to her.

    • Bola

      June 29, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      3. A coach should not be giving advice based on their personal experiences and that is why getting a certification and continuos learning in the many skills needed to coach a person while is very very important and shows that you don’t take your passion, gift, or calling lightly but are willing to put in the time and effort and learning needed to perfect it. So it’s very great that you are studying Temi cos people can do whatever they want without learning the skills. I’m sure people probably ask Michelle Mickeney Hammond all the time “what does she know about marriage advice or relationship when she isn’t married? but anyone with half a brain who has heard her speak can see that she speaks with authority and wisdom (like the pharaises realized about Jesus despite all they tried to test him with). If she listened to people, the millions of people she has blessed including myself would have lost out on her gift. People will always have an opinion – as long as you are doing what God wants you to do and investing to be sure you are doing it right with his guidance, let that confidence in God keep you. You are not for everyone and that is fine – Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and the people he has sent you to will be blessed by your gift if they are open to the fact that wisdom is not always age or experienced based

  9. Seek Help

    June 26, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    Strongly encourage him or her to get medical attention. Post exposure prophylaxis for sexually transmitted infections, emergency contraceptives, pain relief or anti-anxiety treatment can make a significant difference. Earlier is always better (within 24-48 hours), greater than 72hours after the event may be ineffective for prevention of infection or pregnancy. To anyone out there who has been so assaulted don’t suffer in silence/alone. You can come through this STRONGER.

  10. Bola

    June 29, 2017 at 3:21 am

    @Eniyan.. I have sooooo much to say about your comment but I’ll keep it as brief as I can…

    First of all to Temi – You are so fortunate bcos you have a gazillion examples to draw from David’s brothers thought he was a “small boy who knew nothing about battle” before he came with the confidence of God to conquer what they could not conquer with all their years of experience. Gideon, Samuel, Jesus (who all the people who knew him “just” the carpenters son were wondering “what could he possibly have for us” – but they all kept their eyes on the Father’s business, doing what He asked them to do and reaching the people he wanted them to reach – Don’t let the naysayers stop you from the fantastic passion, work and gift that you know God has asked you to do. Build a tough skin and plan yourself firmly in the God-fidence it will take to stand in the face of people with comments and questions like this and DO WHAT GOD will have you do regardless of them! Don’t let it make you shrink back! You are not for everyone, and that’s perfectly ok! Thoes who are wise enough to open their ears to good and sound consel will learn.. and those who are not… well… God in his mercies will help them learn in their own way if they are open. Continue to let the holy spirit embolden you, strengthen you, and lead you in spite of anyone else – including yourself!

    Now back to Eniyan – First let me say, I’m sure you are not a bad person, just responding in your human ability within the limitations of what you are able to see and perceive so this is not meant to be anything more than a cautionary words for you to think about-

    1. It’s obvious you need some more educating on the topic of relationship coaching! You didn’t ask me, but you posted so I’m happy to oblige :). Relationship coaching is NOT just about married people! There are many many types of relationships – many types of human interactions qualify; child-parent, employee – employer, inner self-outer self, team mate – team mate, boyfriend – girlfriend, and so on and so forth. Marital relationships is a part of the equation but its not all there is to life contrary to what a lot of people think.

    2. Sometimes we will face naysayers who block their opportunity to learn from all around them simply because in their pride, they assume the person they are speaking to is too young, inexperienced, childless, spouseless, stupid, unwise enough for them to learn things from. Temi doesn’t seek out for people to come to her for advice/coaching, she merely shares wise counsel from her viewpoint and encourages people to be open to seek advice from wherever they feel comfortable to (if they are more comfortable to go to someone who has been married for 60 years – whether or not that means the person has the wisdom and discernment to coach without shoving their 60 years of experience down the persons throat is another question – but if they feel more comfortable going to someone else, she encourages that they do as long as they are getting the help they feel they need. But if they like her approach and see a wisdom there they think can help them, they are welcome to come to her.

    3. A coach should not be giving advice based on their personal experiences and that is why getting a certification and continuos learning in the many skills needed to coach a person while is very very important and shows that you don’t take your passion, gift, or calling lightly but are willing to put in the time and effort and learning needed to perfect it. So it’s very great that you are studying Temi cos people can do whatever they want without learning the skills. I’m sure people probably ask Michelle Mickeney Hammond all the time “what does she know about marriage advice or relationship when she isn’t married? but anyone with half a brain who has heard her speak can see that she speaks with authority and wisdom (like the pharaises realized about Jesus despite all they tried to test him with). If she listened to people, the millions of people she has blessed including myself would have lost out on her gift. People will always have an opinion – as long as you are doing what God wants you to do and investing to be sure you are doing it right with his guidance, let that confidence in God keep you. You are not for everyone and that is fine – Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and the people he has sent you to will be blessed by your gift if they are open to the fact that wisdom is not always age or experienced based

  11. Dare

    June 29, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Well said @ Bola! Some people are just ignorant I guess. Temi, please don’t mind them jare!! Keep doing you….and great article by the way!

  12. Ngozi

    June 29, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    Great article @Temi. We need bold people like you to change this wrong perception that people like @Eniyan hold so dearly

    @Eniyan my question to you is… Must you be a victim of an issue before you have the “Right” to render advice on that issue?
    It is comments like yours that sometimes lead people astray, especially when the solution is right in front of them.

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