What can I do?
One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is: What can I do to help?
If a survivor shares their story with you, the best thing you can do is listen. Before jumping to advice, before relating their (very personal) story to a recent movie you saw, before anything - LISTEN.
If your child comes to you to disclose their experience of child sexual abuse, I ask that you first listen. Listen to what they went through. Listen to how they were made to feel. Listen to the lasting impacts.
If you yourself are a survivor, begin by listening to yourself. Purchase a notebook and begin journaling. Getting your story out and on paper is a huge first step. Also, sometimes the hardest person to admit the abuse to is ourselves. If you can put a dot on a blank page acknowledging something happened, you are strong.
Remember to listen with much more than just your ears. Hear the survivors body posture, tone, tears, anger or rage. Sexual abuse is an attack on all five senses. A survivor will share his/her story in much more than only words.
Few tips on listening…
Eliminate distractions: put away your phone!
Maintain respectful eye contact. If you think it is hard to hear the story of child sexual abuse, imagine how hard it is for the survivor to share.
Empathize. Please, do not minimize.