In last week’s cover story
, we ran excerpts from an ebook called The Survivor’s Project
. In it, survivors of sexual abuse – both men and women – told their stories of how the trauma of rape, incest, molestation and violence has impacted their lives. The goal of the Survivors Project, a project of the Philadelphia Weekly
, is to help the victims heal.
According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network victims of sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from depression, six times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs and 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide. The effects of sexual abuse can be psychological, emotional and physical, and they can be brief or they can last a very long time. In other words, there is no "normal" reaction to sexual assault.
The first step toward recovery from sexual assault is to get medical treatment as soon as possible. Victims should be screened for sexually transmitted diseases or infections, treated for injuries, and the risk of pregnancy should be assessed. In addition, counseling and other services are an important part of recovery. Victims need to learn to care for themselves, and they need to be aware that even the most basic needs – diet, exercise, sleep – play an important role in recovery.
Following are some resources to help victims of sexual abuse. If you know someone who needs help, encourage them to follow up. If you need help, don’t wait – call one of the resources below and help the healing process begin.
The Victim Service Center of Central Florida, Inc.
, located at 2111 E Michigan St, Suite 210, in Orlando,
is the only rape-crisis program in Orange County certified through the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence
(FCASV). The organization operates a sexual-assault hotline (407-497-6701), and therapists are available on site to help identify and address the impacts of sexual violence and violent crime. Services include evaluation of mental health needs, as well as psychotherapy for those that have no insurance. Support Groups are also available to provide survivors and their loved ones with education and support.
In Seminole County, the Sexual Assault Victim Services Division
of the State’s Attorney’s office operates a 24-hour hotline (In Seminole County, 407-321-RAPE and in Brevard County, 321-784-HELP), free and confidential support groups, guidance through the criminal-justice system and more.
For more information about getting help for victims of sexual abuse, contact the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network
(RAINN), which operates a toll-free hotline: National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).