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I joined this board because I'm looking for some advice. I know this girl from school, we're friendly, but we're not really friends. I would like to be, though. We get along really well. At one point she mentioned she was sexually abused as a child. I was shocked, I felt sad, I didn't know what to say. I didn't really get a chance to say something. We were at school and another classmate joined us in the hall.
I wanted to say something, be there for her. But it didn't feel right to bring it up again. I wanted to text her later. We all know how easy it is, easier than saying something to someone's face. But it just didn't feel right. I feel like, like it's not my place to start that conversation somehow. She might not want to think or talk about it at all.
It's hard to explain, really.. I have no idea what it's like, I have no idea what she's been through. But somehow I feel like she didn't tell me for nothing. The other day she sort of mentioned it again.
I'm really looking for some advice, like the do's en dont's. I know everyone is different, no one knows what she would prefer. But some general advice would be good. Like if it ever came up again, or I see an entrance in a conversation someday. I would like her to know I'm there for her, that I care.
What kind of questions are good to ask, to show interest? And what sort of questions are a total no go. Like what happened? When? How long? Who?
Reason: Changed MT to NT
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I think the best thing you can do is just tell your friend that you want to be supportive and let her know that if she would like to talk about it you are willing to listen. What she tells you is completely up to her, though, so I wouldn't recommend asking for any specific information.
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- Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2017 6:19 am
My thoughts: Let her drive the conversation. Keep what she shares entirely between the two of you. Offer belief, validation, acceptance of her as a person. Help her not to feel like a freak. If possible, help her to realize that she is not to blame, but without arguing or condescending. Be there afterward, so she doesn't feel like sharing drove you away. If sharing makes her feel upset, offer what comfort you can in the context of what she is okay with.
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I would thank her for trusting me enough to tell me, tell her that I believe her, and that I am sorry that happened to her. I would tell her that I will be there to listen, and she can tell me what she needs.
I was recently at a a fundraiser for the Joyful Heart Foundation. The founder, Mariska Hargitay of Law and Order SVU, was there and was talking about how survivors began seeking her out and telling her their stories because of the show, often for the first time ever. Spontaneously, a few people in the audience did this during the Q&A portion of the talk, and Mariska responded as above (minus the being there to listen, since that's not really something she can do).
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I find myself agreeing with what others have written here. Coming from the perspective of someone who has been abused, I would suggest thanking her for trusting you, tell her that you'll listen if she wants to share more and, very importantly, keep it confidential. I wouldn't ask lots of questions. If she wants to share, information will come out when she is ready. You may find that there are certain things that upset her and some of these may seem odd to you but they could be reminders of her trauma. Avoiding these, where possible, would be a kind thing to do. I do think what's also really important is that you look after yourself. It's not always easy supporting someone who been experienced trauma and without good self-care, can cause some problems. There are people - spouses, friends etc - who have ended up with secondary ptsd, for example, from hearing about trauma. I am not saying this will definitely happen to you but it's worth being careful. Honestly, I think your friend is very fortunate to have you in her life. The fact that you've come here and asked for advice is really special. Just, please do look after yourself too. You're just as important.
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- Joined: Sun Apr 20, 2014 11:00 pm
I'm late in replying to this but I wanted to tell you how wonderful I think it is that you are here asking. That's a beautiful thing.
I echo what everyone here has said. Let her know you are listening if she needs to talk and that you believe her. And don't disappear from her if she shares.
It's been a while since you posted this. Hoping things went well. And, tell your friend about this place if you think she might be interested. At some point it might be helpful to her. Maybe?
Thank you for being the kind of friend that it sounds like she needs.
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