Sexual abuse is a traumatizing experience that usually has severe impacts on the lives of the survivors.
As a person whose friend, partner or relative was a victim of sexual assault, you might find it challenging to find the right response to their plight.
It has been established that the reactions displayed when someone opens up about their experience can affect the victim’s recovery process.
Therefore, it is crucial to use the right actions and words to support sexual abuse survivors to avoid setbacks. Listed below are seven ways you can help a survivor of child sex abuse.
Be Willing to Listen
When a victim of sexual abuse decides to open to you, you need to be willing to listen. Give them physical space, focus all your attention on them, and listen to their story.
Refrain from asking them to provide details or proof. It is hard and emotionally tasking for victims to recount their abuse, so you will not be doing them much good by forcing them to dig deeper into their memories.
Express Your Belief in Them
It is essential to let your loved one know that you believe them implicitly. Do not ask questions such as:
- Are you sure?
- What were you wearing?
- Did you say no?
Also, do not make statements like:
- That seems impossible
- That was a long time ago, and you should be over it by now
Those kinds of questions and comments indicate that:
- They are not telling the truth
- They are responsible for the assault
- They are not allowed to feel traumatized about the event
Instead, say things like:
- It was not your fault
- You do not deserve what happened to you
- You are not broken or damaged
Control Your Emotions
It is normal to feel anger, hurt and disbelief when you find out that someone close to you was sexually assaulted.
However, you should try your best to control your emotions and shield your loved one from them. You do not want to burden them with your reactions in addition to their trauma.
Be Involved in Their Recovery Process
Most assault victims have post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, low self-esteem, feelings of guilt and shame, and other forms of mental health issues.
Although they might be capable of recovering on their own, survivors of sexual assault need to get professional help.
You can get them to and from appointments with therapists, attend sessions with them, or help them keep track of their medications.
Ensure that you are involved in their recovery process but also give them enough space to process their feelings on their own.
There are lots of resources available about the impact of sexual abuse on its victims and the process of recovery.
Getting yourself adequately informed will make you better equipped to give your loved one the appropriate support and help they need.
Read books, talk to experts, and use dedicated hotlines to help you determine how best to care for your survivor.
Help Them Get Compensation
Child sexual abuse survivors are eligible to get financial, health and other kinds of compensation, regardless of how much time has passed since their abuse.
Schemes like the National redress scheme have been established to provide aid to victims of Institutional sexual abuse.
You can conduct research or contact a lawyer to find out about the best possible avenue for help that will also protect the dignity of the victim.
The journey to full recovery will be a long and tedious one, filled with challenges and setbacks. There will be times when your loved one would make tremendous progress, and there will also be days when they will regress.
It would help if you remained patient and unwavering in your care and support. Celebrate with them on their good days and try to cheer them up on their bad days.
Do not lose your patience when they get triggered and try your possible best to get them out of precarious situations.
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