My uncle came into the room & cuddled next to me under the covers. Should I say something?

Dear Auntie…my uncle came into the room I was staying in and cuddled next to me. I froze but then he tried to keep touching me and I told him to get out of the room and he did. Now I don’t know if I should tell anyone and I really want to tell my boyfriend but my boyfriend is really protective and I don’t want him to get upset. So does it matter whether I say anything anyway?

First off, I’m so sorry this has happened to you. Know that your uncle’s poor choices had absolutely nothing to do with you and it is not the result ofanything you may have done or said, whether you were joking or not.

Knowing how to feel, act, or what to do after sexual assault can be very confusing. Please know that you are not alone. If someone is touching you orharming you in any way, it’s never O.K. and it’s never your fault.

Sexual assault means any type of sexual activity where one person (or people) force someone to participate in sexual activity when consent is not obtainedor freely given. Sexual assault is never the fault of the victim and it is a crime. You have the right to report it to the police. For emergency situationsthat require immediate and urgent assistance call 911.

Why are people sexually abusive toward others? Often times sexual violence is not about offenders getting pleasure from sex or any otherform of harassment, but rather about them asserting power and control over someone else. Some offenders have been abused themselves, but this is not alwaysthe case, and there’s no evidence that a victim or survivor of sexual assault will become a perpetrator.

How experiencing sexual abusive might affect you. Everyone reacts to the types of sexual abuse differently. Individuals can experiencea variety of immediate, short-term and long-term effects on her (or his) physical and emotional well being.

What to do next? I know it’s going to be a hard conversation to start, but you really do need to choose an adult you trust to talk toabout this… maybe a parent, a doctor, or a counselor at school. Even though you and your aunt are close now, I would consider choosing someone else,as it can be hard to predict how she might react.

The first priority of your trusted adult will be to come up with a plan to help keep you safe. That might mean keeping your uncle away from you at familygatherings, or reporting him to authorities. If the adult you talk to isn’t able to help for some reason, try again with another adult. Remember thereis always help.

Confiding in a close friend you can trust can also make a big difference, as they can provide you with solace and support. They can also help be therefor you if times get tough.

Where to get help? Finding the courage to talk about sexual assault is incredibly important to your future health and well-being. Youcan call National Sexual Assault Hot-line at 1-800-656-HOPE(4673), or the National Center for Victims of Crimehot-line at 1-800-FYI-CALL. If at any time you’rein an unsafe or potentially abusive situation, call 911 or your local police immediately.

Last thing, worrying about how your boyfriend will react can wait until after you have talked to your trusted adult, or one of the resources I just gaveyou first. I want to make sure you are prepared and are taking care of yourself first, rather than focusing on your boyfriend. You are the priority here.

You should be proud of yourself for taking this tough first step. I’ll be thinking about you and saying my prayers for you.

Auntie Manda

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