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In this week's episode, we explore how to talk to friends, family, and strangers about an assault you've experienced.

CALL TO ACTION: We want you to think of some things you can can to someone having a bad reaction to hearing about an assault. What would you say to someone who got angry and starting blaming the survivor? Or insisted that they were making it all up? Share your answers with the hashtag #EngageUplift!


Engage by Uplift tackles the difficult issues surrounding sexual abuse that the YouTube and online communities face. We're starting real talk for real change.

Each week, our host Kat Lazo discusses abuse and how it manifests in virtual spaces. Watch and collaborate with us through weekly calls to action, and join in with some of your favorite YouTubers as they consider the issues in round table discussions.

Hosted by Kat Lazo: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheeKatsMeoww

Directed and written by Kelly Kend: http://kellykend.com/

Real talk for Real Change. #EngageUplift
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What's up, everyone? I'm Kat Lazo, and welcome to another episode of Engage by Uplift, a video series aimed at having real talk for real change when it comes to sexual assault.

Sexual violence seems to be a subject matter that a lot of people find difficult to tackle, but it's especially difficult if you yourself have actually experienced it. Often survivors may feel embarrassed by what happened to them or even fault themselves. But let's be clear - and I know I've said this in almost every other video - it is never your fault. I repeat: never your fault!

This feeling of embarrassment or thinking that you yourself caused this to happen can really prevent you from opening up to people. I'd like to stress that not everyone who experiences assault or abuse reacts in the same manner. But if and when you do decide to open up to people about what's happened, this video may be a good guide on how to have those conversations.

One of the best things that you can do for yourself after experiencing sexual violence is finding someone trustworthy to talk to. There are so many questions that run through a survivor's mind after experiencing sexual violence, such as: "Should I report? Should I go to the hospital? When should I go to the hospital?" Having someone that you trust by your side could make these decisions a lot easier.

But for some folks turning to friends or family is not an option. Remember that sexual assaults happen the most when people are the most vulnerable, such as when they're at a new school or feeling alienated from a group of peers. In these types of situations calling a hotline might be the best route for dealing with immediate aftermath. If some time passes and you still haven't told anyone, it can be just as hard to open up. Silence about such a significant and traumatic event in your life can actually make the feeling of shame stronger.

You might be terrified of how people will react. If you have reason to believe that your family will react poorly, gather up support with your friends, a crisis center volunteer, or a counselor. In a perfect world, your friends and family would react with unconditional love and support. Unfortunately sometimes that just isn't the case. There is a lot of misinformation about sexual violence out in the world.

I want to be very clear that if someone starts asking you, "What were you wearing? Why were you drinking? Why didn't you try harder to get away?" They're in the wrong. There are other people who may get very upset if you open up to them because perhaps they went through a very similar experience, but never opened up about it. Others might just get angry. There's nothing you can do to control how people react.

If someone makes you feel worse after you've opened up to them, remember that they don't understand how sexual violence works. They might be holding on to all this misinformation, like thinking that rapes often happened by strangers, which is not true! They might wholeheartedly believe that there are certain things that we should do in order to prevent ourselves from experiencing sexual violence such as not wearing certain things, not going out at night, not drinking, not being a woman! But remember that if those things were true, we would have eradicated sexual violence a long time ago. Remember, it's not your fault and you did not deserve this.

For this week's call to action I'd like to hear what you would say to someone who is having a bad reaction hearing about a sexual assault. What would you say to someone who started getting very angry or started blaming the victim or insisted that this person is making it all up? Share your answers using the hashtag #engageuplift on social media and of course in our comments down below.

An increasing number of survivors are choosing to share their experiences publicly online. This has created an amazing cultural force of people joining together to create change. When people share their stories publicly, they're standing up and refusing to be shamed. When you share publicly it encourages other people to do the same. They may also come to you privately to share similar experiences. You can build a community of survivors which can be in itself so therapeutic but it can also serve to help other survivors.

But remember that publicly disclosing what has happened to you is a choice. You don't have to do that. not all survivors want the responsibility of being an activist telling strangers online means that knowledge of your assault is available for anyone to see. It will leave you open for increased threats and online harassment. It will mean that people that don't even know you will know what happened. They may not be as sensitive when talking about the trauma that happened in your life. You're not weak or a coward for choosing to be private about it. Remember that everyone heals differently. It's completely up to you whether you want to tell people online.

The internet has a way of being really polarizing; you can receive lots of love and support from people around the world that you don't even know, but you can also receive a lot of threats and online harassment. there's no right or wrong answer here. The choice to disclose to family, friends, or complete strangers, or disclose at all for that matter is completely up to you. If you have questions about getting help after an assault or an abuse, please make sure to check out our previous video. It has lots of resources that can help you get through it.

Alright that's it for this week, thank you so much for watching. Don't forget to answer our call to action: What are some good things to say to someone who is having a bad reaction to hearing about an assault or an abuse? Share your answers on social media using the hashtag #engageuplift or in our comments down below. And while you're at it, why not give this video a thumbs up if you found it helpful and subscribe. I'm your host Kat Lazo, TheeKatsMeoww, and I'll see you next week. Bye!