Fear of how people will react to sharing stories of abuse is really common. Sharing our histories and reaching out for help is extremely hard, that’s normal. But it is healing and important to tell people what happened to move forward and find the support you need.
A good place start is making it real to ourselves. Writing about it or saying it to ourselves is helpful, knowing we have the words to verbalize what we know of what happened and how to ask for what we need is really helpful. I’m a huge fan of writing about feelings in general, knowing where we are with ourselves allows reaching out to be easier. Having at least a starting understanding is important. This process continues after telling someone.
Who should I Talk With?
Pick a person who has had a history of supporting emotional needs in general and has validated you in the past. You can never truly know how people will react. However, with trusting and loving someone and having their respect in return are a good sign they will react supportively.
If you’re looking for a professional if at all possible reach out to one who has a history of working with trauma and abuse. Finding help
How To Have The Conversation:
Two ways to talk is to write something to them an email, letter etc. or a face to face conversation. I do consider conversations had in sign language, with a pic board or text to speech machines as a verbal/face to face conversation. I don’t recommend phone calls, you have the worst parts of both options.
With letters, it is great for those of us who struggle with verbal communication, it allows the start of the conversation to not be impacted by verbal or auditory communication deficits. it’s easier and it allows you to write something thought out. Think about what you want to say, but don’t put things off forever holding it in forever makes the sending of the letter harder. A negative is waiting for the response.
Face to face conversations are good because they are immediate responses and you can have instant comfort and the emotions are more visible. A negative if you have intense struggles with verbal communication it can be frustrating to get the information across. It is also a very overwhelming experience and can be off-putting.
You can write something and then read it out loud this can help with having things planned out. It can give you some of the helpful ability to have some words chosen ahead of time to start the topic.
Either way, before you have the topic please think about what you are willing and not willing to share. You never have to include graphic details of an event. What parts of your story are for others over at any moment is up to you. Your story is yours you own it.
Handling Worries About The Reaction:
Things almost never go as good as we hope or as bad as we fear. The conversation will likely be overwhelming and/or emotional so you do have to plan for and understand it. There can also be a few different reactions that can seem out of the blue within ourselves. Like you might go completely blank and talk like a robot to handle the stress, you might feel blurred and confused from dissociative symptoms, or get insanely angry. Those are just as valid as fear and grief. Feeling like you can’t even speak, or feeling chocked is common, fear can cause that along with abusers can plant the idea talking cannot be done.
There is always the possibility the react horribly. Completely shutting you down, calling you a liar, calling you misguided or acting like it doesn’t matter. I can’t tell you this won’t happen, but I can say you will survive. There will be people who believe you and we are some of them. It’s discouraging and horrific but you will survive.
Also remember that our worst judgments of ourselves, shame, poor self-esteem and self invalidation is warped by the abuse. We are often some of the most judgmental people of ourselves, how our abusers treated us makes all of the worst thoughts and messages we receive take a really strong hold. This is important because it can help us feel after telling the story.
Some Dos and Don’ts:
- Do: Choose a time where you don’t have a strict time limit.
- Do: Bring notes to a conversation if it helps.
- Don’t: Have the conversation when other stressors are going on.
- Do: Create a calm space, bring water or tea.
- Do: Understand that sometimes some unconventional things might help. Like having a conversation in the car as it puts you one on one/
- Don’t: Feel the need to share every detail.
- Do: Feel proud for taking this important step.
- Do: Know any emotions you have are fine and valid.
- Don’t: Feel pressure for this conversation to be the big end all be all.
- Do: Know we think you’re amazing for doing this.
Be Blessed all who read this,
3 thoughts on “Advice: Telling people about the Abuse”
I have a case how a male newspaper editor-in-chief reacted to a #metoo story in year 2007
survister wrote this
Sorry, I read this not wrote 😎