Jennifer's Story: Finding Support After Sexual Assault
Praise was the first thing that Jennifer received on her call to Safe Horizon’s 24-hour Rape Crisis Hotline. Less than 24 hours before, her boyfriend’s cousin had pried open her apartment door and raped her. Just hours after the attack, Jennifer had gone to the hospital, been examined by a nurse, talked with the police, and arranged for a week of leave from work. Her perpetrator was already in custody. Our advocate praised her for taking active steps to care for her health, safety, and emotional needs. But Jennifer felt exhausted, scared and confused by the barrage of people and information she encountered the day before. She feared for her safety, and perhaps worst of all, she feared that the rape was her fault.
Our advocate reinforced what Jennifer knew in her heart—that no one is responsible for a rape except for the rapist. She walked Jennifer through relaxation and self-care techniques that could help her cope and mentioned Safe Horizon’s mental health counselors and support groups that were available if and when she felt ready for them. Our advocate answered every question that Jennifer had about the process she began the night before and what would happen next. She made an appointment to change Jennifer’s damaged locks through Safe Horizon’s Project Safe program, which provides free locksmith services for crime victims of crime. She helped Jennifer think through immediate concerns, such as where she could find a safe place to sleep that night, to longer term issues such as reimbursement for her medical treatment, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket costs.
Jennifer ended the first of many calls to Safe Horizon relieved—armed with referrals, resources and our advocate’s gentle assurance that she could call back any time of the day or night if she ever needed someone to talk to.