Sexual Abuse Survivors Seek Help in Record Numbers - Tips from Dr. Stephen J Oreski on How to Help a Survivor

Thursday, October 18, 2018 General News
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When a high-profile case, such as the Cosby case or the recent sex abuse scandals in the Catholic church enters the news cycle, calls to sexual assault hotline increase dramatically.

PARAMUS, N.J., Oct. 17, 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- The recent Supreme Court hearings and the nomination process resulted

in an increase of 338% to sexual assault hotlines (RAINN, October 1, 2018). Sexual abuse survivors are seeking help in record numbers not seen before.

"We have seen a tremendous increase in clients reaching out for assistance and seeking counseling for the first time," states Dr. Stephen J. Oreski, LCSW, a psychotherapist specializing in treating those impacted by sexual violence. "When one person speaks out regarding their experience with sexual violence, often others will come forward." Speaking out reduces the stigma associated with identifying as a survivor of sexual abuse. It can be extremely difficult for survivors to come forward and share their story. They may feel ashamed, concerned that they won't be believed, or worried they'll be blamed.

If someone you know has been impacted by sexual violence, or shares that they are a survivor, Dr. Oreski offers some guidance on how to respond to the disclosure:

  • Leave any "why" questions or investigations to the experts. Your job is to support the person. Be careful not to interpret calmness as a sign that the event did not occur. Everyone responds to traumatic events differently. The best thing you can do is to believe them.
  • Survivors may blame themselves, especially if they know the perpetrator personally. Remind the survivor, even more than once, that they are not to blame.
  • Acknowledge that the experience has affected their life. Phrases like "This must be really tough for you" and "I'm so glad you are sharing this with me" help to communicate empathy
  • Let the survivor know that you are there for them and willing to listen to their story if they are comfortable sharing it. Assess if there are people in their life they feel comfortable speaking to and remind them that there are service providers who will be able to support them as they heal from the experience.

Dr. Stephen J. Oreski & Associates is a psychotherapy and counseling practice dedicated to working with survivors of sexual violence and their loved ones, offers a safe and healing environment to address the issue surrounding all forms sexual violence.

For more information, please go to

Dr. Stephen J. Oreski LCSW has been involved in the sexual violence movement for over 20 years. His professional background includes leadership in social movements, policy, advocacy, and community organization. Dr. Oreski is the clinical director for the largest sexual violence resource center in New Jersey, and maintains a private practice in Paramus, NJ, specializing in long-term counseling for survivors of sexual violence and their families.


SOURCE D&S Psychological Services, LLC

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