1 out of every 4 women and 1 in every 6 men have been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives, which means you probably know somebody who has been abused. How should you handle it if they confide in you? There are constructive ways to handle this and non-constructive ways to handle this. We’ll go over both of these categories in this video.
First, here are the things you should say and do for your friend. Watch your body language. Don’t fold your arms in front of you; don’t close off to your friend. Keep your body language open and stay calm, no matter how horrific your friend’s story may be. It’s best if you can at least appear calm; that’s going to serve your friend.
Of all the things you can say to your friend, the top two would be “I believe you,” and “it took a lot of courage for you tell me that.”
Tell your friend, “you didn’t deserve this,” “it’s not your fault,” “healing is possible,” “you’re not alone and we are in this together.”
Tell your friend, “that sounds like a difficult experience.”
Tell your friend, “I’m here for you.” They probably really need to hear that.
Tell your friend, “you did the right thing to survive that.”
It’s helpful to offer to help your friend with daily chores, things like laundry, washing dishes. Your friend may be overwhelmed right now. The thing about trauma and PTSD is they tend to relive the event, and this can easily overwhelm them in Broomfield, Colorado.
A good question to ask your friend would be, “would you like to talk about it?” It’s a good idea to invite your friend to talk about it without insisting.
Another of my favorite questions is, “how can I help you to feel safe right now?” Let your friend answer, and don’t rush that answer.
So those are the things that you should do and say for your friend.
Now let’s look at the things you should not do or say.
If your friend’s confiding in you, they’re probably reliving the event. Touching them without permission is ill advised. Don’t touch your friend without permission.
Probably the worst thing you can say to your friend is, “get over it already.” They’re not going to just “get over it.” It’s going to take time for them to process the trauma before they can begin healing from it.
Don’t ask your friend what they were wearing. Don’t ask your friend, “what were you doing when it happened?” “Why did you do this? Why did you not do that?”
Or the absolute worst, “what did you expect?” So these are all examples of victim blaming. That will get us nowhere, it will probably shut your friend down.
Please don’t tell your friend, “it couldn’t have been that bad.” Don’t tell them “it could have been worse.” Minimizing their experience is probably going to cause them to close off to you.
Don’t tell your friend, “you seem very depressed,” or “you’re being very negative about this.” That’s not going to help.
Don’t tell them, “you should report this,” don’t “should” all over them, and don’t say “I know how you feel,” because you don’t. You can’t just crawl inside their head and know how they’re feeling. Let’s face it, that’s kind of callous.
Don’t tell them, “it will pass,” this is not something that’s going to heal on its own.
Don’t tell your friend, “I’m giving up on you.” Don’t tell them they’re a lost cause. These are really cruel things to say. I can’t imagine saying that to somebody who’s been abused, but apparently some people do.
Don’t ask your friend, “why didn’t you tell me this sooner?” People open up on their own time.
Don’t ask your friend, “why are you so jittery? Why can’t you just relax?” Chances are, they’re hypervigilant, and they’re not going to be relaxing without some help.
If your friend is a combat veteran, don’t ask them how many people they have killed. That’s really not going to help. It’ll probably cause them to relive their trauma.
Don’t tell them, “well you know what to do about this, you know what you should do.” They don’t know; that’s why they came to you in Broomfield, Colorado.
And if your friend was abused by somebody, don’t suggest revenge. Don’t say, “well he’s going to pay for this.” Really, let’s think about where that might lead.
So these are my tips for what you should and should not do and say for your friend who confides in you that they have been abused.
It’s a good idea to recommend counseling for your friend, particularly if this is an ongoing thing; it’s something that can be suggested, let’s not insist. Let’s not have an intervention for this situation, but it’s a good idea to suggest counseling. Feel free to contact me if you would like your friend referred for counseling. As far as trauma in the body, I would be glad to help your friend. I can be reached at 303.819.0097. Thanks for watching.