Attending a Sexual Assault First Responder training session

Attending a Sexual Assault First Responder training session

So I attended a workshop to learn how I can be a first responder. But I’ll tell you why.

First of all the facts. Eight out of 10 perpetrators are acquaintances or friends of the person who is sexually assaulted. Eight out of ten! I also learned that 91 or 92% of the survivors reported are female. Men can also be survivors of assault. Add to that, with Section 377A in effect in Singapore, imagine all of the unheard cases coming from gay men who are afraid to step forward.

“Sexual assault is never the fault of the victim, no matter what they were wearing, how they were behaving, how much they had to drink or their sexual history.” 

Entering this room wasn’t easy. I’ll tell you that. Seeing the full house was a mix of emotions. Wow, look at everyone coming together for this. Wow, look at how big this really is. How important it is to help survivors of sexual assault.

There were only three or four other men in the room who took this workshop. But did I feel out of place? Not at all.

I didn’t really get to speak to other participants. But I did get to meet my seatmate who is a social worker helping out abused domestic helpers. I was taking notes and I noticed others were doing the same. I wondered about diverse backgrounds. Diverse objectives. Were they students? Were they also social workers? Were they survivors of sexual assault themselves?

Here’s a video about consent… as a cup of tea!

If I can’t find the answers for myself, I can at least help find answers for those I can speak to. I’ve felt this way since I started volunteering for Action for AIDS Singapore last year. I can help myself by helping others and shifting the attention outwards and not inwards. I mean, navel-gazing is exhausting. It’s like being able to breathe freely again when I help others out.

Can you imagine how many unreported cases are out there? For fear of being ostracized. Or because there’s 377A which says two men can’t have sex with each other even if it were consensual. Where would a male survivor turn to seek help? If he fears 377A.

The sessions. I liked how the sessions were conducted because the speakers provide disclaimers all throughout. They remind participants that if the subject matter is too sensitive or too heavy, we can step out of the room. The speakers also shared a grounding exercise. Initially, I was wondering why we would need it. But if my own story somehow led me into that session room, what more the stories of other people in the room. Did they have sisters, brothers, friends, cousins, classmates who are victims of sexual assault?

Consent as a signal light. Intoxicated and resistant are in red.

At the end of the four-hour workshop, we were shown this powerful video of sexual assault survivors speaking to us on camera, unfiltered. I’ll end this post with the video.

Hey there. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault or harassment, please seek help. There are people who care about you. If you’re in Singapore, AWARE is one important resource:

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