How Can I Support Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse?
Many survivors worry that they won’t be believed and blame themselves for what happened. The most important thing you can do is to tell them that you believe them and remind them that what happened to them is not their fault.
Listening without judgment is key. When it comes to healing from sexual abuse there is no timetable, and every survivor is different. Be patient and avoid pressuring them to tell you anything they’re not ready to share.
Empower them to make decisions around their healing and encourage them to seek supportive resources. Offering to accompany them to get a medical exam or make a police report can be helpful but avoid pressuring them into taking steps they are not ready for.
How Can I Speak Out While Maintaining My Privacy?
An attorney experienced in handling child sexual abuse cases will be able to guide you through an appropriate process to publicize your case while protecting your identity.
There are many ways that your attorney can publicize your case, helping to reach other survivors of abuse and protecting children who may still be in harm’s way. A good attorney will ensure that this happens in a way that is comfortable and safe for you.
Is It Okay for Me to Speak Out About My Abuse Publicly?
Should you decide to be public about your abuse, your attorney will be able to guide you in ways to do so safely and effectively. If you do not have an attorney, advocacy groups like SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) or your therapist can help you find ways to make your case known in a way that is safe and healthy for you.
Child sexual abuse is never the fault of the child, and it is safe to speak out. Have you, or someone you know, experienced clergy sexual abuse? Our trauma-informed staff is here and ready to help.
Are There Groups I can Join or Volunteer To Help Survivors of Sexual Abuse?
While many nonprofits that help survivors of child sexual abuse only use trained volunteers, there are many things that you can do to help survivors. You can write letters to the editor of your local, regional, or national media outlets in support of survivors of abuse, especially when stories about abuse and cover-up are in the news. You can speak to your local lawmakers and discuss how they can make laws more child- and victim-friendly. You can look up your statewide coalition against sexual assault (most states have one) and see where they need your voice and energy.
Finally, you can reach out to and support survivors when they do come forward. The more survivors are supported, the more we can stop the cycle.
Is It Okay for Me to Use Social Media to Talk About My Abuse and Reach out to Others?
Social media can be a wonderful way to find support and connect with other survivors. However, if you have a pending lawsuit, work closely with your attorney to determine what is safe and appropriate for you to post on your personal social media channels.
What Are Ways That I Can Safely Speak Out About My Abuse?
There are many ways that you can speak out safely about your abuse. If you have a lawsuit pending, be sure to talk to your attorney before speaking publicly about the abuse you endured as a child. You can also talk to your therapist about speaking out and strategies to ensure that you honor your own experience and the experience of those you tell. Support groups and advocacy organizations can also help you find ways to share your story.
The most important thing to remember is that when you take action, you take control of your healing.