It ensures both partners are on the same page, and helps survivors feel they have enough space to process their trauma within a relationship.
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Couples can celebrate every step of the process together.
“If you are recovering from trauma, and you are a survivor, we have to notice the small changes we make every day,” says Stocker.
This means at some point in your dating life, odds are you will encounter a survivor.
“If we’re going to be dating, and if we’re going to be dating a lot, we’re going to run into someone who probably is a sexual assault survivor,” says Cynthia Stocker, a licensed clinical social worker with more than 30 years of experience.
“For someone who is going through the experience of coming out about [their] sexual assault, that’s…something that they are going to want to do on their own time and in their own way,” says Stocker.
“There is no wrong or right way for them to do that.…That experience of sharing their story is up to the survivor and not up to us.” As a partner, be prepared to hear these stories with empathy, understanding, respect, and confidentiality.“I don’t give someone all the details at once,” says a survivor.“I need to see that they can be patient early on, and not because it’s a manipulation, but that they are genuinely trying to be understanding of something that is out of both of our control.” Like all relationships, communication can’t be emphasized enough.She adds: “Not telling me how I’m supposed to feel or how and when it will get better is the big thing.” Taking the time to communicate how both partners feel at any given moment can go a long way toward building comfort and trust in a relationship.“The thing that makes me most comfortable as a survivor is having open communication with my partner at all times, but especially during bad days and during sex,” says survivor Kelley O’Brien.Survivors like me are not rare, especially considering the statistics.