Dealing with Sexual Abuse Victims
Sexual abuse comes in many forms, such as molestation or rape. And after these tragic incidents occur, it can take years for the victim to cope and recover. If you know someone who has been a victim of sexual abuse, it is important to know how you can be supportive of their situation.
The first thing you need to know is that you should not pressure them to tell you every detail of what happened. When they are ready, they will tell you what happened, and if they don’t want to, that’s okay. If they want to go over it and tell you about it several times, listen patiently.
If you don’t know what to say, that’s okay too. You can be supportive in silent if this is what your friend needs. Instead of pressuring them or yourself to talk, make sure you provide them with a soothing, safe environment, by perhaps making them a cup of tea and covering them with a blanket. You can also play some soothing music.
Make sure you let them know it was not their fault, and that they have nothing to be ashamed of.
You can offer to help by gently suggesting joining a support group or visiting a therapist. You can also offer to attend the first few sessions with them so they don’t feel alone.
One common mistake friends of sexual abuse victims make is that they try to control the person’s life and fix all their problems for them. Your friend might not like that. Remember, sexual abuse victims feel like they lost control over their body and environment, so they might not want you to be overbearing. Instead, listen to what they have to say and what they prefer.
Recovering from such a traumatic experience can be a slow and difficult process, so don’t forget to take care of yourself and address your own feelings over the entire situation. And no matter what you do, never show any impatience and never tell them to “just get over it”; each person takes their own time to recover, and all you can do is offer your support.