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5 Ways to Support a Sexual Assault Survivor

January 19, 2021

Sexual assault or abuse is never the victim’s fault. With proper support from family and friends, survivors can begin to heal and move forward from what happened.

Sexual Assault Survivor

By Daniela Santiago
Bilingual Victim Advocate
Sexual Assault Center


It is already difficult for a survivor of sexual assault to speak up and disclose what has happened to him or her. It is important to know that every survivor has the right to be supported physically, mentally and emotionally, and in any other manner that they may need, during and after a traumatic experience.


Below are 5 ways to show support to a survivor:

LISTEN. Let the survivor speak, do not rush them to conclusions or rush to provide them solutions. It is ok if there are moments of silence during the conversation. Survivors need time to process their thoughts and process what happened to them. Offer them emotional comfort and allow them to express their feelings.


BELIEVE. People rarely lie or exaggerate about abuse. Believe what the survivor is telling you. As it is, it already took a lot of courage for them to trust and talk to you about a sensitive part of their life.


REASSURE. Remind the survivor that what happened is NOT their fault. The perpetrator is the only person to blame. It does not matter what a victim wears, says, or does – no one ever deserves to be abused or harassed. Let them know that you will respect their privacy by keeping confidential what they tell you. If you do need to inform someone, be open with the victim about who you are going to be talking to, and what you are going to tell that individual(s).


ESTABLISH SAFETY. Help the survivor identify ways to re-establish his or her sense of physical and emotional safety. Ask what would make him/her feel safe and how you can help to accomplish this. Help connect the survivor to a national or local sexual assault hotline for resources and advocacy. If needed, help the survivor create a plan of what to do if he/she is in immediate danger.


ENCOURAGE. Encourage the survivor to seek medical attention when needed, report the assault, and/ or contact local sexual assault resources. Encourage the survivor to seek activities to help them recover and gain control of their life again. Remember to support the survivor’s decisions, as they are the expert in their life.

Sexual assault, abuse and harassment touches many lives. We know that it happens to children, adolescents, and adults. No matter what your situation is, the Sexual Assault Center is here to help. We provide free, confidential support to survivors of sexual assault and their loved ones. These services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to survivors in Brown, Door, Oconto and Marinette Counties. For more information about our services and how to contact us, please visit our webpage.

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Pornography, Exploitation, and Human Trafficking

January 5, 2021

What happens when human trafficking and the online sex industry collide? The troubling ties between the two, and what can be done to stop it.

human trafficking

By Shelby Mitchell
Victim Advocate
Sexual Assault Center of Brown County


The topic of human trafficking can often be controversial one. Wherever you stand on this issue, it is important to know the facts and understand basic definitions.  The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defines human trafficking as any situation in which “force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control” are used to exploit another person. If any of these qualifiers are present, it’s human trafficking.

Many survivors of human trafficking are often subjected to multiple forms of exploitation, including pornographic images.

It has become incredibly common for me to hear from survivors in Northeast Wisconsin that their trafficker forced or coerced them into posing for sexually explicit photos. These images and other video content were then used to maintain control of that victim. Traffickers often share these images online and through various apps. They may also threaten to send the images to the victim’s family and friends. These methods of control further add to the shame that is already felt by many human trafficking survivors.

This type of exploitation is fueled by the increasing demand for nude images and other pornographic content on the web. Data from Webroot Cybersecurity estimates that 35% of all internet downloads are related to pornography. A study quoted in a recent article from Exodus Road also found that data aggregated from 400 million web searches revealed that the most popular term related to sexual searches was “youth.” Additionally, one of the most-searched terms on Pornhub, a popular porn website, is “teen.” This term has remained in their top 10 searches for six years.

If, at any point, a minor is used for commercial sexual exploitation that is human trafficking. Period.

Research has also raised the concern that some people who view pornography will eventually act on the physical desires that they have. This may result in a person paying someone to act out their desires with. This person may not understand that they have fueled the problem of human trafficking in two ways: first, through the consumption of online pornography and the second through in-person sex acts.

There are several things that we, as a society, can do to stop the sexual exploitation of others.

First, we have to say “no” to any content that depicts the exploitation of another human being — especially minors. This extends from the shows that we watch to the other materials we consume such as books, magazines and on social media.

If you see any images on social media that could depict the exploitation of another person’s body, report it. Reports can be made directly through the social media site or reported to the Cyber Tip Line at

Another way you can help is by educating yourself on companies that profit from sexual exploitation. A list can be found at on the Dirty Dozen list. You can also educate others on the dangers of pornography and the connection to human trafficking. There are many online resources including:,, Exodus Road, and Shared Hope International to name a few.

And lastly, please remember that any time pornography is produced and distributed at the expense of an individual against his/her will, human trafficking has occurred. Together, we can do our part to end sexual exploitation.


Additional Resources:



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