DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like my friends are victim-blaming me for my sexual assault. I was sexually assaulted by my personal trainer a few months ago, and needless to say, it was a traumatic experience for me. I confided in my friends about it before taking any other actions, and they pretty much questioned me more than my attacker. They asked me why I didn’t report him immediately and even blamed my “skimpy” workout clothes for why he would’ve assaulted me. I’m so hurt and shocked. Is this a good enough reason to cut off all communication with my friends? -- Trainee
DEAR TRAINEE: I am so sorry that the assault happened to you and that your friends haven’t been supportive. First things first: Make sure that you have alerted the proper authorities -- which should include the police and your trainer's employer. Find out if there is anyone who is part of the gym or business that employs him who may have insights into this man’s behavior. You may also need character witnesses who can vouch for you. Think about that.
As far as your friends are concerned, lie low for now. Perhaps they mean well, but their comments aren’t helpful. Honestly, it shouldn’t matter what you wear; a personal trainer should not be attempting to take advantage of you based on your attire. Too many people hesitate to report abuse even though an early report can sometimes make the journey easier.
Rather than walking away from your friends, talk to them. Tell them how disappointed you are that they have not been supportive. Tell them you need their support. Then observe to see who steps up. That’s who you want to have your back. You can release the others -- at least in your mind.
If you feel like you need to talk to someone, you can always call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).