Support sexual assault survivors: how to be an ally

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UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) – While the state is anxiously waiting to see what will happen next in the case against Governor Cuomo, survivors of sexual assault are facing their own battles. The eleven women cited in the Attorney General’s report are just a small portion of sexual assault and harassment survivors throughout the world. 1 in 6 American women are survivors of attempted or completed rape. 1 in 10 survivors of rape are male and approximately 47% of transgender individuals experience sexual assault. If a survivor comes forward with their experience, here’s what you should know.

Jennifer Jones, the Safe Trax program director at Utica College, explained, “First thing you want to do is thank them, because sharing something so intimate with anybody is a huge leap of faith. Make sure you ask them what they want to do. It’s so easy to jump into rescue mode where you offer all these things and say we should do this, this and this, but it really is up to the victim and what they feel is good for them. Listen without judgement. We don’t want to judge the people that are coming forward and putting faith in us and trust. Stand behind them. Check in on them, and provide them the resources that you know of or get them to someone who knows more about the resources.”

There are resources in Oneida and Herkimer counties available through the YWCA, and many options are available online. Despite there being a variety of resources, many survivors choose to stay silent in fear of retaliation and the justice system.

Jones expressed that it is crucial to have an appropriate reaction if and when a survivor does choose to speak up. She said, “For victims who do speak up it means everything to be able to share it with people and be believed.”

In regard to the current situation involving sexual assault allegations against Governor Cuomo, Jones feels resignation would not be enough.

“Not only should he step down, but he should pay restitution and or jail time depending on the severity,” Jones said.

Governor Cuomo has yet to make any comment on whether or not he will resign, but the New York State Assembly judiciary committee met this morning to discuss impeachment.

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