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Looking for ways to support a sexual assault victim? Here’s how

Participants march against sexual assault and harassment at the #MeToo March in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

LISTEN: Supporting a sexual assault victim

PHOENIX — In the wake of the #MeToo movement, discussion has been raised over how to help sexual assault victims.

But one Phoenix-based clinical social worker said sexual assault victims need just one thing from their supporters: Not to judge them.

One of every six American women – and one of every 33 men – has been the victim of either a completed or attempted rape, according to the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

More than 321,000 Americans over the age of 12 have been sexually assaulted or raped and at least 60,000 children are victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse.

Tiffany Trawick with Southwest Behavioral and Health Services in Phoenix said a non-judgmental listening ear can mean the difference between a bitter, hurt person and one who heals from trauma.

“Believe the victim,” she said. “Let them know they have a voice, and that they’re being heard … and not judged in the crime they had committed against them.”

Another important thing, Trawick said, is being aware of one’s own emotional state.

“There’s a lot of emotions that get triggered — both for the victim and someone who’s hearing about the victimization. We have to be aware of how we feel about sexual assault … so we can make sure we’re there for friends or family.”

Trawick said as a licensed social worker, it’s OK to report the crime no matter how long ago this happened. However, supporters should always follow the victim’s lead.

“If they want to report it, absolutely,” she said. “If they still have a lot of emotions around it, [provide] that emotional support. And, make sure that you get them connected with the right people so they can make the right decision.”

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