being there for a victim of sexual abuse

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Liberated Me
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being there for a victim of sexual abuse

Post by Liberated Me » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:09 pm

being vague to protect identity

A family friend who is quite a bit younger than myself reached out to know more of how my spouse and I handle the balance of his church activity vs. my resignation. She wants to take a short break from church to decide whether or not she should continue her activity. She is very open-minded and has talked with people that have left church and come back later on, but she also wanted to know what it's like for someone like me who has left and not come back. We chatted and then I asked her about what it was that brought her to this point, she mentioned social issues, frustration with culture, temple, and then told me that her older brother raped her for years starting about when she was 6, (during his high school years) and she was so scared of him that she never told anyone. This is such a serious and difficult thing to navigate. She is just now getting counseling and has a supportive spouse but the way her suffering has never really been acknowleged by her family is so hurtful to her (they just swept it under the rug and don't really talk are a fairly dysfunctional family but appear to be righteous) and she experiences anger and sadness every time she goes back to visit the home she grew up in. She's also overwhelmed with depression and anxiety, has 3 young kids and a very tight budget. In addition she lives in the greater SLC area and is surrounded by the culture that she feels has hurt/neglected her.

I'm seeking to know how to best support her. What are the best things I could do right now? What are the worst? This is sensitive and I want to be the support that she needs in a balanced way. I'll leave the therapy to the therapist.
For those of you who have either been a victim of sexual abuse, or have had a friend who shared their healing journey with you, or who have expertise in the field,I welcome your thoughts.
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” ~Nelson Mandela~
"Judging others does not define them, it defines you ...."
~Wayne Dyer~

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Give It Time
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Re: being there for a victim of sexual abuse

Post by Give It Time » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:29 am

Two of the most helpful things I've heard are

I'm so sorry you went through this alone

And

I'm so sorry you've carried this so long

Another helpful thing I've been told is that I'm strong.

Do not, under any circumstances, tell her she needs to forgive. She already knows forgiveness is important. If she chooses to forgive, when and how is her business.

You're already being more supportive than most of the people she knows by believing her and posting here with your question.
At 70 years-old, my older self would tell my younger self to use the words, "f*ck off" much more frequently. --Helen Mirren

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MoPag
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Re: being there for a victim of sexual abuse

Post by MoPag » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:56 am

Chieko Okazaki gave a talk about healing from sexual abuse. I can't link the Youtube video because I'm at work, but this exponent article has a link to it:

http://www.the-exponent.com/chieko-okaz ... ual-abuse/

I'm not a mental health professional and childhood sexual abuse wasn't something I have had to deal with. But if your family member is still TBMish this might be something that could help her.

That is rough. I hope she can get the help she needs.
...walked eye-deep in hell
believing in old men’s lies...--Ezra Pound

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Red Ryder
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Re: being there for a victim of sexual abuse

Post by Red Ryder » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:46 am

GIT and MoPag hit home runs!
GIT wrote:Do not, under any circumstances, tell her she needs to forgive. She already knows forgiveness is important. If she chooses to forgive, when and how is her business.
Exactly! Forgiveness DOES NOT need to be the first response. The church will default to that as a way to "let it go". It minimizes the pain and suffering of the victim. Support her by letting her know it's OK to not forgive. God will not blame her if she does not forgive.
MoPag wrote:Chieko Okazaki gave a talk about healing from sexual abuse. I can't link the Youtube video because I'm at work, but this exponent article has a link to it:
Send her this talk. Listen to it first so you can discuss together as a way to support her. It is excellent.

I hope all is well with you. Btw, did they ever find that guy that purposely went missing? I think about that often.
Elder Nelson seems to have somehow become the mouthpiece of the mouthpiece of God. ~ Hagoth

beetbox
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Re: being there for a victim of sexual abuse

Post by beetbox » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:42 pm

I don't have anything to add, but I think you sound like a great friend. I imagine your willingness to acknowledge her pain and listen to her means quite a lot.
Red Ryder wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:46 am
Btw, did they ever find that guy that purposely went missing? I think about that often.
Do you mean the husband of the LDS mommy blogger from American Fork? They found his body about a month ago. Sad, I was really hoping he would show up ok. I haven't seen any additional information out there about what happened.

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Liberated Me
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Re: being there for a victim of sexual abuse

Post by Liberated Me » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:49 pm

Give It Time wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:29 am
Two of the most helpful things I've heard are

I'm so sorry you went through this alone

And

I'm so sorry you've carried this so long

Another helpful thing I've been told is that I'm strong.

Do not, under any circumstances, tell her she needs to forgive. She already knows forgiveness is important. If she chooses to forgive, when and how is her business.

You're already being more supportive than most of the people she knows by believing her and posting here with your question.
Thanks so much for these insights, Give It Time. very valuable. thanks for sharing from your experience. And thanks to the rest of you also! I'm so appreciative of this forum and the support and camraderie found amongst the community even though I don't frequent as often anymore.
Red Ryder was talking about a man that was a family friend that went missing up here in Alaska a couple of years ago. I joined the Search and Rescue efforts and it felt like an amazing experience that united all of the volunteers from so many walks of life. We all braved the wind and sleet and trekked up and down some of the steepest terrain imaginable. It was sad (two young daughters and a wife mourning him) and yet it was also a very spiritual experience to serve. His body was never found and I think about him every day as I drive by his family's home or when I see paragliders in the sky.
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” ~Nelson Mandela~
"Judging others does not define them, it defines you ...."
~Wayne Dyer~

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SeeNoEvil
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Re: being there for a victim of sexual abuse

Post by SeeNoEvil » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:45 pm

Liberated I first want to say thank you for wanting to be there to help your friend. Many people when you mention you have been abused just don't want to hear it and go out of their way to avoid the conversation. So, thank you for being there for her. The only thing I have to add is to let her know this was not her fault. Many victims blame themselves and spend much of their energies questioning the why and their part.... what could they have done differently. Please just hug her and let her know this was not her fault and most important she is no longer alone.
"Every event that has taken place in this universe has led you to this moment.
... The real question is, what will you do with this moment?" - Unknown

"Never arrive @ a point where you know everything - Korihor57

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Hermey
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Re: being there for a victim of sexual abuse

Post by Hermey » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:21 pm

Give It Time wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:29 am
Two of the most helpful things I've heard are

I'm so sorry you went through this alone

And

I'm so sorry you've carried this so long

Another helpful thing I've been told is that I'm strong.

Do not, under any circumstances, tell her she needs to forgive. She already knows forgiveness is important. If she chooses to forgive, when and how is her business.

You're already being more supportive than most of the people she knows by believing her and posting here with your question.
Amen to this!

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alas
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Re: being there for a victim of sexual abuse

Post by alas » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:15 am

So far, everything that has been said is good.

My points to add:
1. Listen and believe her. So often victims are doubted that they begin to doubt themselves.

2. Correct any self blame. It is difficult to feel all that anger against someone she still loves, so some of the anger is turned into self blame, plus there are so many ways that rape culture teaches self blame.

3. Encourage her to feel appropriate anger. Anger is so often kept inside and turned against herself, especially with a family member. Others around her don't want to hear she is angry at a family member, so they shame the anger she should feel.

4. Realize that healing goes in stages and layers and may take many years. Be patient when you hear the same stuff over and over. It really is not the same because it changes just a bit each time she revisits the same idea. Like peeling off layers of an onion, each layer seems the same, but you get closer to the center.

5. Just be her friend and listen.

tryingtogetitright
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Re: being there for a victim of sexual abuse

Post by tryingtogetitright » Thu Sep 14, 2017 6:19 pm

1. What happened is fully and simply wrong. Believe her.

2. Whether or not you encourage her to go to the police now (because if he raped her and didn't get treatment or consequences, he is likely at risk for other harm), support whatever decision she makes.

3. Do not encourage her to conflate what happened with religious things though because that makes it more difficult for both family and faith issues. If her Mormon family was so dysfunctional as to cover this up, and not protect her and not require him to live elsewhere while he got counseling and until she felt safe with him being back in the home, that may not be because they are mormon at all. It happens in all faiths.

4. I wouldn't be visiting my family in her place. I'd need a lot of time and distance to be okay with me and to protect my new family.

5. Help her find a good therapist, who has sexual abuse experience and who does cognitive behavioral therapy and/or EMDR which are the two effective interventions for PTSD.

6. Do encourage her to write or visit her brother's bishop (if she is going to the police, after she has done that and gotten a copy of the report and the police have told her that doing so will not interfere with their investigation). While bro's bishop might not do anything, she'll want to follow up and confirm that she communicated the facts and alerted that he could still be dangerous. And also send it up the chain to the First Presidency, so that if he harms anyone at church ever, that victim can hold the church accountable because they knew.

7. Her therapist may encourage her to tell extended family members whose children may be at risk. Support her if the therapist does.

8. (And remember that it is possible that someone in teh family also abused her brother and started the cycle. (Not suggesting you should necessarily bring this up to her, just that you should be conscious that this may not just be a brother issue).

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SeeNoEvil
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Re: being there for a victim of sexual abuse

Post by SeeNoEvil » Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:54 pm

Liberated this is a thread that is most needed. I have a friend right now I am having similar conversations with. I've learned a lot from this thread that has helped me a lot. In her case all her family sided with the abuser. She was just a child when it happened. I don't understand how a family could do that!
"Every event that has taken place in this universe has led you to this moment.
... The real question is, what will you do with this moment?" - Unknown

"Never arrive @ a point where you know everything - Korihor57

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alas
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Re: being there for a victim of sexual abuse

Post by alas » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:52 am

SeeNoEvil wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:54 pm
Liberated this is a thread that is most needed. I have a friend right now I am having similar conversations with. I've learned a lot from this thread that has helped me a lot. In her case all her family sided with the abuser. She was just a child when it happened. I don't understand how a family could do that!
[Begin rant]
I would say that 90% of victims say that the family sided with the abuser. But the family feels that they did not take sides. The trouble is that when you have a younger victim and an older perp the victim has much less power, and by "remaining neutral" the family fails to support the victim at all. The family needs to be smacked the side of the head with a 2x4 and told that if they fail to side 100% with the victim then they are taking the side of the perp. You cannot remain neutral when there is the victim of crime and a criminal. It Isi possible to support both the victim and the perp. But when family loves the perp, it is very hard to kiss him before testifying against him in court, then smile and say, see you when you get out of prison. But in order to protect the victim from further harm, the perp needs to be OUT of the home as soon as the accusation comes out.

Really, the only way to side with the victim is to be angry enough at the perp that you no longer want him in your own life either, because, really, you cannot support the victim and still have your relationship with the perp unchanged. The victim needs to know that what the perp did was wrong, wrong enough to make the rest of the family angry.

But in 90% of the cases I saw, the family failed the victim. They would do things like be character witnesses for the perp, and in front of the victim testify that the perp was a great guy, with tearfull, "he doesn't deserve to go to prison over this." Yet this same family member swore that they were doing everything in their power to support the victim.

They would most often blame the legal mess on the victim because she told. Somehow, family often expects the victim to just endure the abuse so as to protect the perp and the family from the embarrassment, legal problems, and consequences of the perp's behavior.

You HAVE to blame the perpetrator. There is no neutral.

[end rant]

Now that I have spouted my anger, don't ever spout your anger in front of the victim. They will jump in to defend their family or even come to the defense of the perp. If the perp is family, remember that no matter how angry the victim might be, they do not tolerate others being angry at their loved ones. They love/hate their family and the perp, but as a support person, you are not allowed to be angry---at least until they are ready for you to be angry, and then you damned well better be angry.

This is why I stressed listening more than suggesting what to do. You as support cannot be too far ahead of the abuse survivor in their healing process, or they will fight you. If you suggest X before they are ready to hear X, then you actually set them back because they will fight the idea.

This has kind of been pointed out with not advising forgiveness. Forgiveness IS a step in the healing process, but it is a LAST step. If you suggest it early on, then it makes the survivor feel she has no right to be angry. Anger comes way before forgiveness and so if you suggest forgive, before they can even make it to anger, then the healing gets short circuited.

People pushed me to be angry with my mother for failing to protect me. She knew something was terribly wrong between me and my father, and failed to ask or take any action. So I had reason to be angry with her too. But my dad didn't love me enough to not abuse me and accepting that my mom ALSO didn't love me enough to protect me was more than I could handle. I needed to believe that someone loved me, so when people pushed me to be angry at my mother, it actually sent me backwards in the healing process.

So, my advise from my experience is listen, listen, listen. If you see thinking that is screwed up, you can gently point out what you see. Such as, pointing out that a child is never responsible for sexual behavior because they simply are too young to have sexual feelings, so how can a two year old "seduce" an adult? That implies sexual intent in someone who has no sexual intent or knowledge. The adult is projecting his feelings onto the child, then telling the child she is responsible for his feelings.

But you cannot remove the pain the survivor feels.

You cannot push them faster than they are capable of healing.

You cannot feel their anger for them.

You cannot do their healing for them.

All you can really do is be there for them and believe them.

So, I would suggest that you only make suggestions like report to police *if* it comes up in conversation and then only as "what I think I would do." Same with telling his bishop. Some victims want the church kept out of it.

Now, personally, I never reported to police. I did tell his bishop because he was in position at church of harming others. I did tell my siblings so they could protect their children. But, do not push your friend into anything because if it goes badly, it will be your fault and she will hate you for it and will lose a support person.

So, give her options. Reporting to police is one option. Deciding not to report to police is also an option and while you can point out pros and cons, don't push her into what you think she should do. Give her options then back off and let her control her life. Control is something the abuser took away, so always give her control of her choices.

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SeeNoEvil
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Re: being there for a victim of sexual abuse

Post by SeeNoEvil » Fri Sep 15, 2017 2:29 pm

alas wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:52 am
SeeNoEvil wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:54 pm
Liberated this is a thread that is most needed. I have a friend right now I am having similar conversations with. I've learned a lot from this thread that has helped me a lot. In her case all her family sided with the abuser. She was just a child when it happened. I don't understand how a family could do that!
[Begin rant]
I would say that 90% of victims say that the family sided with the abuser. But the family feels that they did not take sides. The trouble is that when you have a younger victim and an older perp the victim has much less power, and by "remaining neutral" the family fails to support the victim at all. The family needs to be smacked the side of the head with a 2x4 and told that if they fail to side 100% with the victim then they are taking the side of the perp. You cannot remain neutral when there is the victim of crime and a criminal. It Isi possible to support both the victim and the perp. But when family loves the perp, it is very hard to kiss him before testifying against him in court, then smile and say, see you when you get out of prison. But in order to protect the victim from further harm, the perp needs to be OUT of the home as soon as the accusation comes out.

Really, the only way to side with the victim is to be angry enough at the perp that you no longer want him in your own life either, because, really, you cannot support the victim and still have your relationship with the perp unchanged. The victim needs to know that what the perp did was wrong, wrong enough to make the rest of the family angry.

But in 90% of the cases I saw, the family failed the victim. They would do things like be character witnesses for the perp, and in front of the victim testify that the perp was a great guy, with tearfull, "he doesn't deserve to go to prison over this." Yet this same family member swore that they were doing everything in their power to support the victim.

They would most often blame the legal mess on the victim because she told. Somehow, family often expects the victim to just endure the abuse so as to protect the perp and the family from the embarrassment, legal problems, and consequences of the perp's behavior.

You HAVE to blame the perpetrator. There is no neutral.

[end rant]

Now that I have spouted my anger, don't ever spout your anger in front of the victim. They will jump in to defend their family or even come to the defense of the perp. If the perp is family, remember that no matter how angry the victim might be, they do not tolerate others being angry at their loved ones. They love/hate their family and the perp, but as a support person, you are not allowed to be angry---at least until they are ready for you to be angry, and then you damned well better be angry.

This is why I stressed listening more than suggesting what to do. You as support cannot be too far ahead of the abuse survivor in their healing process, or they will fight you. If you suggest X before they are ready to hear X, then you actually set them back because they will fight the idea.

This has kind of been pointed out with not advising forgiveness. Forgiveness IS a step in the healing process, but it is a LAST step. If you suggest it early on, then it makes the survivor feel she has no right to be angry. Anger comes way before forgiveness and so if you suggest forgive, before they can even make it to anger, then the healing gets short circuited.

People pushed me to be angry with my mother for failing to protect me. She knew something was terribly wrong between me and my father, and failed to ask or take any action. So I had reason to be angry with her too. But my dad didn't love me enough to not abuse me and accepting that my mom ALSO didn't love me enough to protect me was more than I could handle. I needed to believe that someone loved me, so when people pushed me to be angry at my mother, it actually sent me backwards in the healing process.

So, my advise from my experience is listen, listen, listen. If you see thinking that is screwed up, you can gently point out what you see. Such as, pointing out that a child is never responsible for sexual behavior because they simply are too young to have sexual feelings, so how can a two year old "seduce" an adult? That implies sexual intent in someone who has no sexual intent or knowledge. The adult is projecting his feelings onto the child, then telling the child she is responsible for his feelings.

But you cannot remove the pain the survivor feels.

You cannot push them faster than they are capable of healing.

You cannot feel their anger for them.

You cannot do their healing for them.

All you can really do is be there for them and believe them.


So, I would suggest that you only make suggestions like report to police *if* it comes up in conversation and then only as "what I think I would do." Same with telling his bishop. Some victims want the church kept out of it.

Now, personally, I never reported to police. I did tell his bishop because he was in position at church of harming others. I did tell my siblings so they could protect their children. But, do not push your friend into anything because if it goes badly, it will be your fault and she will hate you for it and will lose a support person.

So, give her options. Reporting to police is one option. Deciding not to report to police is also an option and while you can point out pros and cons, don't push her into what you think she should do. Give her options then back off and let her control her life. Control is something the abuser took away, so always give her control of her choices.
You're "rant" was most helpful. I am sorry you have had to go through this. In my friends case she is now a grown woman and told me that her family finally one day told her she is to "never, ever bring the abuse up again. They did not want to hear it any more." The only support from her family is from her mother who believed her story and divorce her father over it. Now at the family gatherings the mother and her are excluded. It is really a sad situation but i am glad she has her mother. I've known about my friends abuse for years but have not talked to her much about it. This time she came to me so I know she is ready. Your comments I bolded above tells me I am making the right approach. Thank you.
"Every event that has taken place in this universe has led you to this moment.
... The real question is, what will you do with this moment?" - Unknown

"Never arrive @ a point where you know everything - Korihor57

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Give It Time
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Re: being there for a victim of sexual abuse

Post by Give It Time » Sat Sep 16, 2017 11:05 am

I read My Story by Elizabeth Smart.

Upon her return, I think her Bishop handled the situation about as well as it could be handled. From the pulpit, he declared that Elizabeth had not sinned and that she and her family needed the Ward's love and support and no one had better look at them cross-eyed.

However, the church is what it is. The doctrines are what they are. The talks, lessons and scriptures say what they do. It's interesting, she never credits the church, that bishop or her ward with helping with her healing. She credits her belief in God, but doesn't say anything about her testimony of the church as being part of that.

She credits her grandfather taking her out riding. Animals are therapeutic and Elizabeth loves to ride. So her grandfather would take her out. They never talked about the events. They just rode mostly in silence and let nature, the company of an animal and the company of a family member who loved her work their magic.

She credits music and her family.

I thought that was an interesting list. I especially liked what her grandfather did. I've seen commercials where someone wants to know what to do for their friend who was just diagnosed with depression or BPD or another serious disorder. The response is to just do with them what you've always done. Offer to talk, but if what you always did was hang out and order pizza, just hang out and order pizza. In other words, just be their friend. Let them no this doesn't adversely affect how you feel about them.
At 70 years-old, my older self would tell my younger self to use the words, "f*ck off" much more frequently. --Helen Mirren

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