It’s not always easy to know what to say when someone tells you they’ve been sexually abused or assaulted, especially when that person is a family member, friend, or loved one.
Tips from resources we like
The Courage to Heal is a favorite of TALK and many of our attendees and therapists. It could benefit you as a supporter too as it can give you some insights to what the survivor is going through. It also has a section specifically for supporters.
- Be willing to listen
- Join with the survivor in validating the damage
- Be clear that abuse is never the child’s fault
- Educate yourself about sexual abuse and the healing process
- Don’t sympathize with the abuser
- Validate the survivor’s feelings: her anger pain and fear
- Express your compassion
- Respect the time and space it takes to heal
- Encourage the survivor to get support
- Get help if the survivor is suicidal
- Accept that there will very likely be major changes in your relationship with the survivor as she heals
- Resist seeing the survivor as a victim
RAINN in the US also has some great tips:
- Listen. Be there. Communicate without judgment.
- If the survivor seeks medical attention or plans to report, offer to be there. Your presence can offer the support they need.
- Encourage the survivor to get support. Share resources, but realize that only they can make the decision to get help.
- Be patient. Remember, there is no timetable for recovering from trauma. Avoid putting pressure on them to engage in activities they aren’t ready to do yet.
- Encourage them to practice good self-care during this difficult time.
If you are concerned about child being abused
- Social Welfare Department (HK)
- End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation Hotline (HK)
- Against Child Abuse Hotline (HK)
- RAINN: If You Suspect A Child Is Being Harmed (US)
- Darkness to Light: End Child Sexual Abuse Resources (US)