As a Partner
A boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife or significant other is often the most important person in your life. If your partner is the victim of sexual assault, you might be overwhelmed with conflicting emotions and questions. Was this my fault? Could I have prevented it? How do I make this go away? Will our community judge us if we seek outside help? Did my partner somehow cause it? Will we ever enjoy physical intimacy again? How can I get revenge? How can I take away their pain? This is too much for me to handle…
Know that nothing you’re feeling or questioning is wrong or unnatural in the wake of this kind of crisis. And although difficult, acknowledging and addressing you and your partner’s feelings together can help prevent further distress in a traumatic situation.
Rape is an act of violence that uses sex to dominate and humiliate the victim. Rape is not an act of sexual motivation or gratification. Because rape involves the same body parts as consensual sex, some people wrongly confuse rape with making love. Victims of rape and sexual assault do not want, provoke, or enjoy what happened to them. On the contrary, rape and sexual assault leaves the victim violated, humiliated and deeply distressed. Understanding the difference between rape and sexual assault versus consensual sex is a critical way you can support your partner.
Stalking is another serious offense and one that can even be dangerous for a victim’s partner. Plain and simple, stalking is unwanted pursuit. And it’s a crime in Connecticut and a violation of University Policies. As a partner of someone being stalked, it’s important to keep the whereabouts of the victim private. It’s also important to be on alert yourself, as you too can become a target. And it can be helpful to encourage the victim to report stalking to the police, so appropriate action can be taken.
As much as you may wish you could take away your partner’s pain, often there is not much you can do other than be patient and compassionate. Victims of rape and sexual assault may take months or years to recover. These guidelines can help:
- Educate yourself about sexual assault and the healing process.
- Face what happened. Don’t try to smooth things over or “make it all better.”
- Listen to your partner actively and without judgment.
- Ask your partner what they want and need and let them decide how to proceed after an assault.
- Validate your partner’s feelings.
- Recognize and express your own feelings about the assault to your partner.
- Encourage your partner to identify and utilize available resources.
- Don’t lose yourself. Most of the resources available to your partner are available to you too.