So someone you care about has told you that they've experienced rape or sexual abuse
Suddenly a whole new world has opened up, maybe one that you kind of ignored up to now, or maybe one that you’ve experienced yourself.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s your partner, child or someone else that’s spoken to you, telling you what’s happened to them is huge and an important step in their journey.
You’re not on your own with this though. We’re help to help you too.
First things first; simply listening is the most important thing you can do.
We know that you want to support your loved one. You may think you know what the right thing for them to do next is, and they might even ask you what they should do
Stop for a moment. This isn’t about what you think, this is about what your loved one wants to do.
Try and help them decide for themselves. And if they do decide that they want support you could direct them to a service like ours.
Sometimes, telling one person and sharing their story is all someone can do right now.
The chances are that this all new to you and you might be worried about doing something wrong, or making your loved one feel worse
Listening, going at your loved ones pace and not putting any pressure on them are all important. But there’s some practical things to keep in mind too.
Watch your language
We don’t always think about the impact the way we phrase things can have. Saying “this is unbelievable” may feel like a normal thing to say, and it is. But for someone who is scared that they aren’t going to believed they may hear that as you not believing them at all.
You don’t need to ask for the details
Unless your loved one is sharing them, you don’t need to know. If it does end up being reported to the police, then specially trained officers will support your loved one through the process of sharing those with them. You don’t need to know exactly what happened.
Take your cue from them
Everyone reacts differently. If they want to talk then let them, if they don’t then respect that.
Respect, believe, no judgement
Many survivors are worried that they will be judged, blamed for what happened to them. The reality is that it’s never their fault. No judgement is a big one here. The simple phrase “I believe you” can be the best thing that someone can hear.
It's not always easy and you might find yourself feeling a whole load of different emotions.
And finding it hard doesn’t mean that you don’t care, or that you don’t want to help. We know you do.
But you know how the aeroplane safety chat tells you to put your own mask on before you help anyone else? The same thing applies here.
We open up our counselling service to those who are supporting a loved one because we know that you need a space to work through your own emotions too.
Whether you’re a partner, parent or close family member, you need support as well. Each of those relationships bring their own issues when you find yourself coping with sexual abuse or rape as a family.
You can refer yourself to our counselling service in the same way your loved has. In fact, they don’t even need to be using our service, there’s a space for you here anyway.
And if your loved one is already with us, don’t worry, we’re used to working with that so we can make sure that you don’t see the same counsellor and you don’t even have to come at the same time.