Video: The Power of Empathy
(TW:Rape) How to Support Your Friend Who is Healing from Rape
Anon asked: One of my friends was recently raped and i am at a loss for words. i want to comfort her and do anything i can to make things a little more ok but i don’t know what i can say. she recently had a hospital visit and i kind of want to ask her how it went because i’m worried about her but i don’t want to be insensitive or press for details. how can i be of comfort to her? and should i ask if she’s ok? what if she’s not ok, what if she got bad news at the hospital, what do i say then?First, thanks for being a good friend by reaching out to make sure you are better educated on how to best support your friend as she goes through the process of healing after being raped. It can be really hard to know what to do/say in that circumstance.
I just watched this amazing video on the difference between sympathy and empathy and I think it contains a lot of really important points that are relevant to what you’re asking about. One of the most important things to remember when interacting with anyone who is going through something hard is it’s not your responsibility to fix it or make it better (and in fact usually you can’t). This can be really hard for people. We’re hard-wired to want to fix problems, to make people feel better, and to look to the positive when things get hard. But the fact is, sometimes things just suck. Sometimes people are going through stuff that is too hard and too dark to do anything other than stand next to them as they wade through the darkness.
The beautiful thing about that is, while it may feel hard or uncomfortable at first, letting someone know you’re there for them and truly listening to them without an agenda is ultimately the best way to help. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been with sexual assault survivors who are going through things that I can do nothing about. It’s really hard to watch that happen to someone and to not be able to do anything. But I quickly learned that saying things like “that is a really hard situation” or “things really suck right now” may not feel like doing anything but is often incredibly meaningful to someone who feels alone, unheard, and who is going through hard stuff.
So to answer your question, there is no script. Not having a script is scary and makes you feel more vulnerable but that vulnerability is important especially when you are talking with a person who is likely feeling the most vulnerable she has ever felt. I think the most powerful thing you can do for your friend is to communicate to her that you are here to support her and to ask her how she would like you to do that. You can tell her that you aren’t totally sure how to navigate this with her but you want to do whatever you can to be a good friend to her. You can explicitly say something like “I don’t know if you want me to ask you about your hospital visit but I want you to know that I was thinking about you and I’m here to talk about it if you want to.”
When we avoid asking questions or talking about things, it makes people who are going through difficult times feel even more isolated. That said, not everyone wants you to ask questions nor do they even want to talk sometimes. That’s why it’s incredibly important to ask someone who is healing from sexual assault what they want. Give them some power back by enabling them to dictate how they need to be supported. Make it clear to your friend that if what she wants is to sit quietly with you, you can do that. If she wants to talk it out with you, also an option (and if that’s the case, make sure you’re ready to be non-judgmental and totally open to whatever she says). If she just wants to paint her fingernails and talk about pop culture, that’s perfectly acceptable too. But you won’t know what she needs until you take the first vulnerable step of letting her know that you don’t have the answers and you are here to support her however she needs.
All of that said, make sure you also figure out your own boundaries in what kinds of support you can offer. It can become really emotionally exhausting or even triggering to be the person your friend talks to about details especially if you’re the only person she feels like she can talk to. Make sure that you care for yourself and take time away from being a support person if you need that for your own health and well-being. I know that’s hard because it feels selfish, but it’s incredibly important to remember that you can’t help others if you aren’t helping yourself.
I hope this is useful to you and anyone else who has a friend or loved one healing from sexual assault or going through anything difficult. Best of luck and thanks again for being a good friend.
Via Let's talk about rape
If you want to know why gender stereotypes exist, take a good look at the difference between Girl’s Life and Boy’s Life Magazines. While Boy’s Life pushes boys to get outside and explore nature, Girl’s Life tells girls they should be worrying about fashion. While Boy’s Life offers stories of Scouts they can model themselves after, Girl’s Life asks if Facebook is ruining their love life. And, my personal favorite, while Boy’s Life gives it’s readers jokes so they can be the center of attention Girl’s Life posits, “Do You Know When to Shut Up?”
This is the message we’re giving our children.
this is why we need feminism
I’ve been to one of her presentations and highly suggest seeing her speak if you’ll be in NY on June 5th.
Project Unbreakable is excited to announce that we are partnering with several organizations for a special event in June! Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, founder of the Trauma Stewardship Institute and author of Trauma Stewardship, will host a day long event in New York City on June 5th, 2013. Laura, a longtime trauma worker, uses a mix of personal insight, research, personal stories, and countless New Yorker cartoons to examine the ways working & witnessing trauma can affect us.
Instead of the usual rate of $90, we are offering a partner rate of $60 from now until the date of the event. To sign up, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This day is open to anyone who bears witness - social workers, foster parents, nurses, feminist advocates, environmentalists, domestic violence/child abuse shelter volunteers, firefighters, etc. (Or anyone planning on going into any of these fields.)
We at Project Unbreakable are extremely passionate about Laura’s work; in order to take care of others, we need to learn how to take care of ourselves first.
(Please consider reblogging/sharing/Facebooking/tweeting/etc!)
I wanted to post the whole image on Tumblr underneath a jump, but apparently there’s no way to do that without making it super small? Eh, whatever.
If you’re a feminist who understands the (apparently not) radical concept that women can have penises and men can have vaginas (and that there are people with either or both of those who may very well identify as neither a man nor a woman), would you mind reblogging this? I could really use a little faith in humanity being restored right about now.
We tell people they are “strong” when we are uncomfortable with their pain and would prefer that they shut up and not bother us with it. To say “but you are strong” is telling someone “I don’t think you should feel that way,” and it’s not a compliment. I don’t think that strength means being invulnerable, or pretending that you are. The belief that silence and stoicism are inherently good qualities is how you end up dressed up like a bat punching criminals in an alley – it’s not a good road to emotional health.
Be sad. Be angry. Let your heart break – in the diner, on someone’s futon, in the park, on the way to the zoo, at brunch, over drinks, in the therapist’s office, on the bus – Wherever it breaks, let it break all the way open, let it run out and down and spread out in a soggy puddle at your feet. Say, “I’m sorry, I can’t listen to you today, my heart is broken. Will you sit with me a while and I’ll tell you about it?“
Say, “I can’t take care of you today, but you can take care of me, and maybe tomorrow I will take care of you, and we can trade off like that for a while, okay?”
Say, “I love you, and I love that you think I’m strong, but I don’t feel like being strong today. I feel like being angry and crazy and sad. Can we go to the movies or just sit here quietly or take a walk or talk about it or not talk about it?“
Your friends may get scared when you do this. If you, the “strong” one can break, what does that say about them? That’s why they push back at you and try to remind you of your strength, when what you need is for them to stand by you in your pain and weakness. They don’t have to solve that pain, they just have to bear witness to it. Maybe they don’t know how – a lot of people don’t know what to do in the face of other people’s pain. They want to fix everything, and if they can’t fix it they feel inadequate. As the “strong” one you can help them out with this by saying “You don’t have to fix it. You don’t have to do anything. Just be with me, and listen, and love me, and I’ll love you back. That’s all I need – to know that you love me, even when I’m sad and scared and don’t know what to do next.”–
I needed this today.
Me too, me too. Actually I think I’ve needed this for the past year or so.
(Source: acatnamedhercules)Via Let's talk about rape
My class today [TW: rape culture]
I am drawing something and it is 900% an excuse to draw graffiti tentacles on a wall.