Sexual assault is traumatizing enough on its own, but survivors are often at loose ends afterward, wondering how they're supposed to return to normal life as if nothing happened. Fortunately, Noa Maiman's "Toolkit for Rape Recovery" series hopes to change that. The documentary filmmaker and actress created the series back in 2014 after realizing how helpful it was to talk to other survivors throughout her own recovery after being raped at the age of 20. A year and a half later, Maiman has published nine episodes in her series, each featuring a combination of advice for other victims and discussion of her own experiencces with recovery.
Initially titled "Toolkit for the Fresh Rape Victim," Maiman later changed the name of the series to the "Toolkit for Rape Recovery" to reflect her own progress. Each episode deals with different topics ranging from how to tell other people (if you want to, that is) to avoiding self-punishment, but the first episode is devoted to something victims of sexual assault don't always hear: That it is not their fault. "You are not alone, and it's not your fault," Maiman says emphatically. "You have not done anything wrong."
It seems intuitive to some, but in a world where victims of sexual assault are routinely questioned, dismissed, and outright blamed for their trauma, such acceptance from a fellow survivor may have a powerful affect on someone's recovery. Maiman goes on to share tips for a variety of practicalities gleaned from her own experiences with recovery, including what to expect emotionally. "Society doesn't like talking about the subject," she explains, "which in turn leaves us really, really lonely."
Despite cultural encouragement to keep assault to oneself, Maiman stresses the need to talk about the subject. In fact, she devotes the entire second episode to explaining how to discuss the experience: Who to tell, what to say, and what to expect. First, she advises calling a sexual assault hotline or some other professional who is removed from the situation before telling loved ones. "Friends and family love us so much that they sometimes believe it's not true," she says. She also warns viewers to beware of those who would take advantage of a survivor's emotional state, using an incident in her own past as an example.
What makes the series so unique is its emphasis on concrete, explicit advice: Tather than speaking in vague terms, she provides a step-by-step guide to the discussion. It should be noted Maiman's advice isn't meant to be taken as gospel, and everyone's recovery is different — but considering that the odds are stacked against survivors, every bit of guidance helps, especially when it's so clear and direct. Although there are nine episodes in the series so far, the latest of which discusses how friends and family can support survivors, Maiman told i100 that she has 12 planned. Check out the first in the series below:
Images: Noa Maiman/YouTube (2)