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Monday, September 17, 2012

OFW guide: What to do if someone you know was sexually abused (July 18, 2012 4:30pm)

By - Veronica Pulumbarit/AM, GMA News

After the story of a Filipina who was raped by a Saudi Arabian man and his son circulated on social media sites, Philippine officials urged overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to be more prudent on what they post on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites.

The Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia  on Monday urged "all Filipinos in the Kingdom and their families in the Philippines to refrain from broadcasting through social media platforms or other means sensitive information regarding ongoing cases as it may compromise efforts by concerned authorities."

"The Embassy encourages all Filipinos to instead contact the Embassy directly at for reports on similar cases," it added. 

Saudi cops are currently
 hunting down the Saudi father and his son who allegedly raped the Filipina.

The embassy said the "Filipina expressed dismay for the widely-circulated reports regarding her case. She was saddened by the loss of her privacy and that of her family in the Philippines."

Some things people can do

Pandora's Project , a site dedicated for survivors of rape and sexual abuse, said friends, parents, and partners of survivors are considered as "secondary survivors."

"Knowing that someone you care about has been hurt may leave you feeling overwhelmed. Oftentimes both survivors and their supporters struggle with feeling helpless in the aftermath, and it can take some time to learn how to respond," the site said.

"For many survivors, support is a crucial part of the healing process, and receiving compassionate and validating responses from friends and family can make a real difference," it added.

What to say

For those who know someone who has survived rape or sexual abuse, Pandora's Project suggested saying reaffirming words such as:

I'm sorry that this happened to you.
It was not your fault.
You survived. You clearly did the right things.
Thank you for sharing this with me.
If you want to talk, I'm always here for you.
Is there something that you would like me to do for you?

What not to say

On the other hand, Pandora's Project said these are some of the things that people should NEVER tell a survivor:
It was your fault that you were raped (or abused).
You could have avoided it.
It happened a long time ago. Get over it!
You wanted it to happen.
It's not a big deal.

Other suggestions

Ask if the person wants to be hugged or touched. Some survivors crave for a hug but others cannot stand being touched.
Comfort the survivor. "Bring a cup of tea and a blanket. Play soft music. Make the environment comfortable," Pandora's Project suggested.

Don't try to solve all of the survivor's problems but help him or her avoid such situations in the future.

Do not demand to know all the details of the abuse or rape.

Advice for rape victims

The website of the US advocacy group  said rape victims should not be ashamed of what they have experienced.

“Any shame that you feel is shame that belongs to the attacker and not to you,” the site explained.

The site also offers advice about the steps that rape victims can take:

(1) As soon as possible, go to an area where you will be safe.

(2)  Call for help.

(3) Go to a hospital to check for injuries even if you do not intend to prosecute your abuser. “Sometimes injuries aren't always immediately apparent,” the site said.

(4)  “Do not change your clothes(especially if you think you might file charges). Don't comb your hair, shower, use the bathroom (if possible) or change anything about yourself, until after you've had an examination by a doctor. Valuable evidence can be destroyed even by something as simple as drinking water or going to the bathroom,” it added.

(5)  Be ready to answer difficult questions if you report the crime to the police. “The questions are designed to aid in the prosecution but can seem intrusive at the same time,” it said.

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