There is no perfect reaction to hearing that someone you care about has survived an act of sexual violence, but here are some helpful tips:
Listen and be patient.
Assure them that they are not to blame for the abuse.
Tell them you believe them.
Remind them that they are safe now. Ensure that they feel safe.
Tell them they did the right thing by telling you.
Listen to their feelings of confusion, shame, fear, betrayal, and guilt.
Use age-appropriate words they can understand.
Do not force them to talk about anything they aren’t ready to share.
Seek counseling for them and for yourself, if you choose.
TurnAround provides therapy services to child and teen survivors of violence and to their supporters.
Call TurnAround for support, 410-377-8111.
How to Support a Child Witness of Domestic Violence
Talk to them about safety and create a safety plan
Identify emergency contacts
Identify safe hiding spots
Self-Care for the Supporters
It is important to take care of yourself as practice your own self-care as you help your loved one. You may find yourself experiencing anxiety, fear, anger or helplessness after finding out about a loved one’s abuse.
Therapy is not just for survivors; it is also for the people who support survivors. Counseling is a non-judgmental place where you can explore thoughts that you might not say out loud to a friend or family member.