Surviving sexual abuse requires tremendous fortitude on the part of the victim to tell their tale to anybody. Never undervalue your ability to influence the trajectory of a survivor’s healing journey, no matter how small.
How to Show Support to Sexual Abuse Survivors
If someone confides in you about their experience, it is likely that you are someone they turn to for support, sympathy, and guidance. Despite the fact that you cannot change what has been done to someone, you can provide comfort, or even help them seek justice with a sexual assault from a reputable law firm like Kindley Firm.
This article lists some resources and strategies that can be used to support someone who has shared such painful experiences with you. These include words, deeds, and resources. It is not necessary to be an expert; all that is required is that you be yourself.
1. Pay Attention
Being there for someone doesn’t always require words, at least not many of them. A lot of people say that opening up to someone else helps them cope with feelings of loneliness, secrecy, and self-blame. Simply listening is a form of love in and of itself.
Consider a period when you were vulnerable or confronted with a crisis, and consider what aided you the most. It was probably not a specific conversation you had, but the understanding and reassurance that the person you told showed you.
Knowing that someone cares about you and believes in you goes a long way in helping you get through a difficult time. And there are a few expressions you might use to demonstrate your concern.
Our society can be truly toxic at times, shaming and blaming the victims into thinking that what happened is partly their fault. However, no deed excuses a person who injures another person. The wrongdoer bears the full brunt of the blame and disgrace. Therefore, you should gently and repeatedly communicate that to the survivor. It can be really beneficial.
3. Offer Practical Assistance
This could include accompanying the victim to the police station to report the crime, assisting in locating a specialist to speak with, or simply being there during medical visits. Offer tangible assistance without putting pressure on them to comply.
It’s crucial to remember that following an assault, victims may not be willing to act in any way. Nevertheless, expressing to them that you are ready to stick by them and help them along the path of recovery if they require it is a sign of support.
4. Don’t Offer Comfort Through Touch
Some empathic clinicians may feel compelled to comfort a distraught survivor by using touch. For example, a tap on the back, touching their knee, or even proposing a hug. However, sexual abuse is in itself a situation where a person exercises power over another person by invading their physical space and limits.
Therefore, it is difficult to predict how the victim will react to a physical gesture of support, even if it’s meant to be caring. As a result, instead of using physical touch to show support, utilize words of affirmation, soft tones, and nonverbal cues.
5. Keep Your Lines of Communication Open
Remind a survivor that you are there if they want to share more about their experience. The road to recovery might be lengthy. And it can be full of difficult, sometimes happy and freeing, conversations. Knowing you are there for them can make a huge impact on a survivor.
Be Your Best Self for Them
Finally, always remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup. Therefore, ensure you take care of your mental and emotional health before trying to be a victim’s pillar of strength.