How should you respond if you hear that a friend or family member has been abused?
- Becoming aware of the fact that someone you love has been abused can be very difficult.
- The most important thing is to make sure that they are presently safe.
- Let them know that you are there to support them and honor their story if they want to share it.
Critical to this question is, the age of the survivor. As adults we are all mandated reporters and must do all we can to keep children safe. This is a delicate situation and should be consulted with a professional if possible, hotlines can be helpful here. Children have a right to their privacy, we need to find a way to keep them safe while honoring their needs.
However, if this is an adult, remember that it is their story to share when and if they wish. Be there to support them and provide encouragement and share resources.
But, what if they share it with you and ask that you not tell anyone?
Be patient and compassionate. Sexual abuse is a crime of shame and violation, and highly stigmatizing. Hence, be very mindful to not take the survivor’s power away by making them feel forced to tell or to pursue support and healing, when they are not ready for it.
Reporting a sex crime to the police or sharing it with others is not easy and sometimes not the most helpful to the survivor. The survivor may still be in relationship with, and in proximity to or dependent on the abusive person.
Be there to support them, offer to help at identifying professional help and/or organizations that offers counseling and education/support.
Be there when the survivor is ready to share their story and move to the next stage.
What would you do if a friend tells you they were sexually abused?
How would you respond if that friend were a young person?
What would you want and expect from your friend, if you share your experience of being sexually abused with them?
Feel free to reach out to me if there is any way I support you.
Be Well, Be Blessed