VACS data shows that up to 38 percent of girls and 21 percent of boys have experienced some form of sexual violence in childhood. Of these survivors, only about half ever tell someone about the experience—if they do, it’s most often a peer. An even smaller group seeks services, and very few actually receive services.
This means that friends can play a powerful role in connecting survivors to critical and timely care. Yet many people do not understand the importance of these services or the fact that, after a rape, every hour matters in preventing potentially lifelong health problems.
Here are some facts about the short window of time available to access critical services:
– HIV can be prevented if survivors receive life-saving medication within 72 hours.
– Emergency contraception can help prevent a pregnancy if accessed within 120 hours.
– Medical help for physical trauma may be urgently needed depending on the situation.
By responding appropriately when a survivor comes to you with their story, you help them feel heard and cared for, and can take action to safeguard their health and wellbeing. We need our friends, and our friends need us – so let’s take the first step in being a good friend.