How Do I Tell Someone About My Sexual Assault?

Surviving a sexual assault can be traumatizing, draining, and life-changing. You may be feeling an array of different emotions. You may be feeling fear, shame, guilt, shock, depression. The feelings that accompany assault are diverse and plentiful.

While you may feel like withdrawing from friends and family, reaching out can be a huge factor in the recovery process. By telling a friend or family member, you are creating your own support system to get you through this potentially debilitating time. Here are some steps on how you can reach out to a trusted friend or family member.

Choose someone that you trust.

Pick someone who you know you can confide in and who will stand by your side. They should care about you, be able to listen to you, and be a shoulder to lean on throughout the recovery process. Some choices include:

A close friend

A family member (mom, dad, sister, brother, etc.)

Your therapist

A mentor (teacher, pastor, etc.)

Make sure you tell your story where and when you feel comfortable.

Don’t pick a shopping mall or a crowded bar to tell your story. Find a safe place with privacy. Telling your story may be draining, exhausting, and anxiety-provoking. By choosing your safe place -- this could be your room, somewhere out in nature, or even your friend’s house -- it will be easier for you to confide in your trusted one. And don’t force yourself to speak before you’re ready. This is your story, and you are in control of when you tell it. Take your time, relax, and speak only when you feel ready.

Share only what you feel comfortable with sharing.

Sexual assault can be a traumatizing event. Don’t feel like you need to share every detail of your experience. Some things you can share include the description of your assaulter, when, and where it occurred. The most important thing to share in order to get the support you need is your feelings. Letting your trusted person know how you feel will give them a good idea of how they can help you.

Let them know how they can help you.

In order for you to get the proper support you need, it’s okay to tell your friend or family member how they can support you. Everyone recovers from sexual assault in different ways. Maybe you need more space, maybe you need someone to be a shoulder to cry on, or maybe you need someone to take you out to do fun things. With that being said, let your trusted one know what they can do to make the recovery process easier for you.

These are a few tips that can prepare you to open up about your sexual assault. Remember, you are in control of how, when, and who you tell. While opening up may be tough, a support system is crucial when it comes to recovering from an assault.

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