By Susanna Deepthi
Injustice against women has been rampant this past year. Reports of children and women being raped have made us uncomfortable. What has been our reaction to it all? Is it that of anger, wanting to fight for justice? Is it a sense of sadness and sympathy for the affected individuals? Is it a state of shock looking at the turn of events in the neighbourhood? Or is it mere silence not knowing how to respond?
The reality is that rape, abuse and molestation have been happening around us despite the sadness, shock or silence we impose on ourselves. These are horrible crimes against women. It crushes a woman physically, emotionally and spiritually. Along with the affected individual the family members also go through pain. They suffer from physiological stress and emotional turmoil.
Is there hope? Can the individuals recover? The answer is YES, but it may take a long time. How then do we respond to someone who has been through such a trauma?
This article suggests ways to help an individual and her family going through a crises and get them on the road to recovery.
Ways to help the affected individual
Make sure they get medical and psychological help: It is important that the individual receives immediate medical intervention and psychological therapy. We should direct them appropriate help.
- Have a bigger perspective: How do we see an individual who has been raped? A rape victim? The molested one? Labeling a person affects the way we view them, and that can limit their potential and capability. It is important not to lose sight of who they really are, amidst the trauma. They are still individuals with name, worth and dignity and not mere victims of the crime.
- Show unconditional love and acceptance: The wounded individuals live in a world of fear, anxiety, guilt and hate. They find it difficult to receive love. We need to continue to show to them that they are worthy of love and that we accept them for who they are. We can express our love verbally, through acts of kindness and by just being there. We need to be consistent and genuine in what we do.
- Respect privacy: We need to respect their need to be by themselves. Too much of attention from public and media can hinder them from resuming normal lives. When talking to them, we should be careful not to probe too much, which would invade their privacy.
- Empower them: The traumatic experience would have left them feeling weak and powerless. We should reinstall the sense of power in them. We should encourage them to make decisions on their own and not make decisions for them. We should also stand with them in whatever decision they make.
- Be careful not to displace our emotions on them: We might be feeling a lot of things. It is important that we don’t show our emotions of anger and frustration on the person. We should be careful, not blame them for what happened. We need to be objective in our approach towards them.
Help for the family
- Lend a listening ear: The family is going through a lot emotionally. Just letting out some of their feelings can help them. We can` be available to listen to them, so that they can vent out their emotions. We also need to keep the things they share in confidence.
- Show solidarity and support: We can show our support to the family in a number of ways. Join them in their decisions and stand with them in what they do. We can do awareness programs, campaigns to show we are against the crime too. Most people who have been through such a trauma don’t want others to go through the same suffering, and knowing that some social action is taken can ease their burden.
- Offer physical assistance: They will need a hand to ensure the smooth running of the family. We can be available to do daily chores, run errands, do some shopping, look after family members or any other help they need.
- Give legal assistance: We can also help them with the legal procedures. Maybe, assist them to the court, help them with the paper work. The legal work can get frustrating at times, and a word of encouragement and hope can do a lot of good to them.
- Pray for them: We can offer our prayers to God almighty to strengthen and sustain them through this period.
These are a few things we can do to help them cope better. Let us be people who are sensitive to the needs of people around us. Let us offer ourselves to help the hurting in small ways which can make a big difference.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Susanna Deepthi is a guest writer for WOW. She teachers psychology and counselling to post graduate students at the Global School of Counselling in Bangalore. She is also involved in counselling children, adolescents, and young adults.