Healing from past sexual trauma, no matter the circumstance, is very complex. It requires a great deal of time and intentional care. But with your love, support, and understanding, she can find her way to hope and healing.
Listen. Believe. Affirm. Encourage.
LISTEN: If a survivor tells you she was sexually abused give her your undivided attention. Many survivors conceal their stories for years, for fear of rejection, judgement, or blame. To heal they need to be able to talk about it with someone they can trust.
BELIEVE: While a survivor may not have all the pieces and parts of their stories together in her memory, you can count on the fact she is telling you the truth as she knows it. Believe her. It is one of the best things you can do to help her heal.
AFFIRM: Many survivors blame themselves in some way for their abuse, resulting in deep feelings of shame. Shame can wreak havoc in a survivor's life. She needs know that the abuse she suffered was in no way her fault.
ENCOURAGE: A survivor needs to know there is hope for healing and that healing is a journey not an event. She isn't going to "get over" her past, she will have to work through it. Encourage her to take next steps by connecting her with helpful resources.