More than five years have passed since the news was flooded with sexual harassment scandals in Hollywood. The Me Too movement now seems like a major step towards an egalitarian society — at least in developed countries. However, it’s not just women from the entertainment industry who are common victims of sexual assault. Such heinous acts, unfortunately, occur in every social group, demographic, or class.
In case of such harassment in the workplace, school, or anywhere else, health professionals frequently recommend support groups. They offer numerous benefits for survivors, including protection, emotional outlets, and an overall opportunity to grow. Yet, it seems like most of us know very little about the pros of joining support groups. Therefore, allow us to take you through the ins and outs of alcoholics anonymous’ sex assault cousin.
Support Groups Educate Everyone
The sad reality of sexual harassment is that many people don’t even know they are subject to it when it occurs. They only become aware of it later, which can be days, months, or even years at a time. Nevertheless, by joining a support group — be it an online meeting or physical — everyone can learn the basics of this crime.
Namely, the leader of group therapy (usually a trained psychologist) will explain several examples of sexual harassment. These can include:
- Coworkers repeatedly making sexual advances, even if told to stop;
- Higher-ups offering workplace benefits in exchange for sexual favors (e.g., raise, promotion, etc.);
- Unwanted physical contact;
- Threats based on not wanting to participate in sexual acts;
- Non-verbal actions that evoke sex, including winking, blowing kisses, and similar.
By understanding these examples, people get to prepare themselves better for such unfortunate scenarios. They can react appropriately to them, which helps tackle the issue so that it doesn’t leave an emotional or physical scar. Moreover, it can prevent the perpetrator from doing it to someone else, too.
They Provide Protection
Another important benefit that group members get is protection. This includes both real-time protection and legal support. In essence, many support groups work closely with lawyers who specialize in crimes of sexual nature, and most of them work for free (pro bono). As such, victims and survivors of sexual harassment can take legal action against perpetrators, getting the taste of justice for once in their life.
On the other hand, both physical and online support groups protect in terms of everyday life. That means that while with your group, no one can hurt you, and you are fully safe and secure. Additionally, having contact with your peers and group leaders can provide you with a quick option to call someone in case of a sex assault scenario. Some even teach basic defense skills, which can come in handy against rape attempts.
Your Recovery Is Important to Them
Recovering from any type of trauma can be harder than you imagine. However, there’s something so sinister and heavy about sexual abuse that doing it all by yourself seems practically impossible. The idea of someone treating you as an object and taking physical advantage is overwhelming. As such, many victims never recover, taking a dark path toward self-destruction. Luckily, support groups are here to prevent that.
Mental health professionals dedicate their whole lives to helping people overcome various difficulties. They hope to take you back on the right track and provide you with tools to handle life challenges. The same goes for sexual harassment. No matter if you were subject to verbal or physical conduct of a sexual assault, their help is crucial. From simply talking to providing medical attention, you can count on them in your time of need.
They Encourage You to Grow From the Abuse
After sexual abuse of any kind, many people tend to have a negative outlook on life. And why wouldn’t they? What they have gone through isn’t exactly something you’d wish for, is it? Of course not. However, there’s more to life than living in the shadow of your negative experiences. In fact, any reasonable companion would wish for you to get better. You need to move on from what just happened to you. Luckily, that’s where support groups excel.
Surviving sexual harassment can be a blessing in disguise of some sort. Although no one would want to reasonably go through it, victims can use it to boost their future life. It’s like channeling your negativity into something else and finding a silver lining. Surviving harassment can give a new purpose to life. It can make you an activist against such heinous acts, sharing the voice of those who are not yet prepared to talk on their own.
Still, you don’t have to be vocal about your harassment experience if you don’t want to. No one is saying that’s your job. Moreover, you don’t have to talk about it in public if you don’t feel the need. But you should, nevertheless, adopt coping skills to prevent the trauma from causing you further issues in life. Fortunately, all this is possible with the right people around you, and those people are waiting in various support groups across the country.
Support Groups Teach You to Fight for Yourself
Remember how we’ve said that support groups help people physically? Well, it’s only fair to expand on this claim a bit more.
Although not all groups offer their family this option, many are prepared to include you in physical training. Through these sessions, survivors of sexual assault and harassment learn defense skills that they can successfully use in case of need. These skills are martial arts, and one of the best for defense is Krav Maga. This Israeli martial art, perfected by their special forces — Mossad — allows you to overpower even the toughest of opponents.
However, it’s not just about being physical. Not all harassment can be dealt with force, nor should it. In case of dirty looks and catcalling, the best tactic is to be vocal about it. Unfortunately, many who find themselves in such situations are lost for words. Yet, support groups encourage their family to speak out when facing harassment. Be it by talking to their superiors at work or professors at school and universities, it’s an essential part of defending yourself properly. To do so, you require a bit of courage, and that’s just what you get from sitting with a trained professional and a posse of your own.
They Value You and Your Experience
Lastly, we need to mention how support groups aren’t just for people who’ve gone through sexual harassment. They welcome everyone, including those who were lucky not to have such a horrible experience. But why would anyone want to join these groups suddenly, you might ask. Is it some twisted way of having fun like Marla and the main character of Fight Club have? Nope! Of course not. The idea is to learn about harassment so that you can prevent it in its tracks.
Joining a sex assault support group can allow you to spot such foul play in places where you wouldn’t notice it before. It can also provide you with an opportunity to help others who are going through such an experience. It’s a noble cause that we all should gather around. Especially since there’s not enough talk about harassment in mainstream media, or it usually revolves around celebrities who we’ve grown out of touch with. Either way, legal, physical, and emotional support are key, at least until we defeat this social disease once and for all.