The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously. It is against the Law and will be strictly enforced. PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act)is a law which protects individuals against sexual misconduct.
FROM VICTIM TO SURVIVOR
Sexual Violence affects every aspect of a person’s life-her/his body, emotions, thoughts, behaviors, spirituality and relationships with others and the outside world. This is true whether it is acquaintance rape, stranger rape, date rape, child sexual abuse or marital rape.
How a survivor responds to and heals from sexual violence can be greatly impacted by many variables. Some of the impact of the trauma depends upon things such as age, how the person was before the traumatic event, the victim’s coping abilities and who the offender was. What happened during the crime can affect the survivor’s experience, too, including the severity, frequency and duration of the violence and the degree of personal violation. Also important is how available support and resources are and how much help a community offers its victims (Koss and Harvey, 1991).
Although every survivor’s experience and reactions are different, there are some fairly consistent crisis reactions and long-term issues.
This period lasts from a few days to several weeks after the trauma. Often survivors exhibit one of two styles: expressed or controlled. Many survivors show pieces of both at different times. The following are some common crisis reactions to sexual violence:
•Body: trauma response (fight or flight), injury, pregnancy, STD’s, nausea, soreness, exhaustion
•Emotions: shock, numb, guilt, fear/terror, out of control, powerless/helpless, dirty, ashamed, anxiety
•Thoughts: disbelief, self-doubt, short attention span, racing thoughts, What if?, Where is he?, What’s going to happen now?, What should I do?, How are they going to react?
•Behaviors: eating (less/more), sleeping (less/more), crying, laughing, screaming, joking, tense, shaking/trembling, restless, agitated, silent, chatty
•Environment: school/work (when to return/fears about returning), stressed by children or other life demands, need to spend time within criminal justice system
•Intimacy: varying needs with being touched and left alone, trust and interpersonal difficulties
•Family: take over, control, revenge, questions, shock
•Spirituality: “why me?,” struggles with God, awareness of the fragility of life
After the crisis:
After the crisis, the survivor may realize that her/his life is changed forever. Figuring out how to get on with life can be a very important first step after the crisis period. Some people re-group, go on, but have underlying unexpressed feelings and issues that will seep out in various ways over time. They may decide at some point to look more closely at their experience of sexual violence and its effects to heal in a more thorough way, or they may simply “cope” day in and day out.
Some people have a really hard time getting their life back together. This is especially true of survivors with additional life problems such as poverty or an abusive relationship. If all survivors, especially those with multiple barriers, don’t receive the support they need to heal, things just keep getting worse.
Survivors may experience any or all of the following long-term reactions. How they respond may have something to do with where they are on the healing process continuum.
•Physical: flashbacks, disconnection with body, sensory triggers, decreased immune system, fatigue
•Emotions: vulnerable, isolated, anxious, damaged, sensitive, out of control, grief/loss, anger/rage, generalized fear, depression, defensiveness
•Thoughts: Prevention focus, low self-esteem, self-blame, rape-related thoughts, “I’ll never be the same, I make people feel uncomfortable, No one understands”
•Behaviors: crowd avoidance, withdrawal, changes in appearance, self-endangerment, self-medication, self-injury, suicide attempts, avoiding sex or having sex when she/he really doesn’t want to, avoiding being alone, disengaging from previously enjoyed activities
•Environment: contact with perpetrator, seasonal reminders/anniversaries, media, societal beliefs, criminal justice process
•Intimacy: sexuality, relationship doubts, further victimization, trust
•Family: critical, loss of support, have to deal with their own underlying life experiences, take over again, isolate/separate, relationship growth
•Spirituality: Bad Karma/God’s will, Good vs. evil, subscribing meaning to the event
The Healing Process
Healing is a slow, non-linear process of re-gathering one’s life and courageously moving forward. Healing is not about forgetting the rape or the abuse although taking breaks from active healing work is very normal and often healthy. There is a balance between healing work and “getting on with your life”.
The specifics of the healing process vary greatly from person to person. The process may start right after the rape or 25 years later. It is often something the survivor re-enters as new issues arise and may be precipitated by a terrifying trigger or an exciting new relationship.
Each survivor should be encouraged to trust her/himself and what she/he needs at all times. Most survivors benefit from the help of trained professionals to guide and support their healing work.
Indicators of Healing
•The survivor may give her/himself permission to feel/experience her/his emotions, physical reactions, thoughts, etc.
•The survivor may begin to better understand the connections between feelings, physical reactions, behaviors and the sexual violence she/he has experienced.
•The survivor may give her/himself permission to express her/his feelings.
•The survivor may develop a tool box of positive healing strategies (e.g. guarding her/his down time, meditation, therapy, journaling, helping others, medication for depression, etc.)
•The survivor may learn how to and become willing to access support.
•The survivor may “Come out of the closet” about her/his experiences and more readily talk about them.
•The survivor may deepen her/his relationships through honesty/re-evaluation
•The survivor may come to remember that she/he is completely whole and good.
•The survivor may re-conceptualize what it means to be safe and protected and begin feeling these things again.
•The survivor may challenge her/himself to uncover other “skeletons” in the closet.
•The survivor may learn new skills or sports that make her/him feel more empowered.
•The survivor may accept that her/his life has changed and will always be affected by what happen but that life goes on.
ABOUT FCASV – FLORIDA COUNCIL AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE
The Florida Council Against Sexual Violence is a statewide nonprofit organization committed to victims and survivors of sexual violence and the sexual assault crisis programs who serve them.
FCASV serves as a resource to the state on sexual violence issues. Each year we host a statewide conference and many trainings, bringing state-of-the-art information from around the nation to Florida. We provide technical assistance to agencies seeking to improve their services for rape victims, and we provide up-to-date information to the public. By using our toll-free information line, callers can access information from our resource library or from our network of national resources. FCASV provides information, assistance and leadership on all aspects of sexual violence, including rape, child abuse, stalking and sexual harassment.
We envision a world free of sexual violence in which men and women together assure that all human beings are treated with dignity and respect for their physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual integrity.
Statements of Belief
•Sexual violence is a crime of power and control, and as such, is a matter of social justice.
•Social justice cannot be fully achieved as long as sexual violence is allowed to continue.
•We are committed to ending the societal attitudes, cultural beliefs and institutional practices that perpetuate sexual violence and other social injustices.
•Men and women must be partners in ending sexual violence.
•Sexual violence victims deserve full, compassionate responses and access to high quality services.
•We support the right of victims to determine their own courses of action.
•Prevention is the responsibility of individual offenders and society as a whole.
•We honor and support the efforts of those who provide services to victims.
•Sexual Violence is a public health and safety issue and deserves the complete attention of our elected officials.
Sexual Violence shatters lives, wounds communities and perpetuates injustice. The Florida Council Against Sexual Violence leads, informs and inspires the people of Florida to create safe and just communities.
This mission is accomplished through our network of members. Together, we are working to achieve the following goals:
•Improving Florida’s sexual violence programs, including seeking funding, resources and services.
•Collaborating with agencies from many different fields to advance the issue of sexual violence.
•Providing up-to-date information and training to Florida’s professionals
•Raising public awareness about the impact of sexual violence
•Developing, tracking and monitoring legislative initiatives that affect sexual violence survivors
•Supporting the reduction of the risk of sexual violence through prevention education and through increased prosecution and criminal justice system accountability of perpetrators.
The work of FCASV is guided by members from across the state. Our members are individuals and agencies who are concerned about sexual violence survivors. Our membership is representative of the many types of people who work together to meet the needs of sexual violence victims, including counselors, crisis centers, law enforcement officers, criminal justice professionals, medical professionals and allied service providers. Members have voting authority, have access to FCASV’s resources, including our quarterly newsletter, and they receive discounted training opportunities. Most importantly, members join together with other concerned people throughout Florida who are working to lessen the impact of sexual violence. If you like to become a member, contact us or go to our “Join Us” page where you can become a member online. We also have a membership brochure you can print and mail in.
The following websites provide valuable information to detainees, inmates and staff in reference to (PREA) Prison Rape Elimination Act.