Survivor Spotlight: Amanda

Sexual assault survivor Amanda portraitAmanda was at a high-school party when someone she didn’t know arrived and instigated a shouting match with other people. The reason for the argument was unclear, but the situation suddenly turned violent when he grabbed and raped her in front of everyone. After it was over, she says, none of the people who witnessed the assault helped her—not even the friends she came with.

After Amanda’s attack, she began to use her voice to help others find theirs through RAINN’s Speakers Bureau. It’s important to her that she identifies herself as a survivor, and not a victim. To heal, she began journaling and pursuing other creative pursuits that let her express herself, and she also takes part every year in a local 5k walk/run for Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (SAAPM) at a victims’ services center.

In some dangerous situations, it isn’t always clear what to do. But by being aware of the risks, trusting your instincts and taking action when a friend needs your help, you may be able to help prevent a sexual assault from occurring.

RAINN's CARE approach offers some ways you can step in to support your friends and loved ones: Create a distraction, Ask directly, Refer to an authority, or Enlist others. Amanda admits that being a bystander in these situations can be overwhelming, but having the knowledge and being able to do something is necessary: “We have a responsibility to look out for others and intervene when possible,” she said. She added that when someone doesn’t intervene to stop violence, “We’re essentially saying that this is okay and allowed to continue. That’s not to say that everybody is responsible for an assault, but that we all can play a role in ending sexual violence.”

If you are unable to prevent someone from getting hurt, there are still things you can do to show support. Knowing how to respond to someone who has survived a trauma like sexual assault can be instrumental in helping that person recover from the experience.

The most important piece of advice that Amanda has to offer as she strives to support and help others dealing with the same situations is, “I want to tell survivors that we are a team, and we are not defined by what happened to us. We are strong, we are brave, and we are survivors.”

Learn more about how to help a friend or loved one after a sexual assault.

Read blog posts written by other RAINN Speakers Bureau members this April, in recognition of SAAPM, at the following sites:
To Write Love On Her Arms
BStigma Free

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE and

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