Deciding to disclose?
The person who abused you may have made threats to hurt or kill you or people or animals you care about, or made some other horrible threat. At that time, not telling anyone about the abuse your experienced may have been the safest thing to do, and besides, you may not have felt like you had anyone to tell in whom you could trust.
Sometimes survivors of abuse do try and tell someone but the response they receive may not always have been supportive or helpful. Sadly, sometimes, survivors may have not been believed. Then it becomes very hard to ever pluck up the courage to disclose to anyone else.
Remember – It is never too late to talk
Who to tell?
As part of your self-care, It is important to consider who the right person is to disclose to. Not everyone you know will be ready to hear about your experiences or how they have impacted upon you. Even people close to us may not always know how best to support you in the way you would like.
It can be useful to ask yourself;
• What response am I wanting from this person?
• Who will be able to hear what I am saying?
• How might I help this person prepare for what I am about to say?
• What are my worries and concerns?
• How can I manage my expectations of what will happen when I tell?
• How might I take care of myself, particularly if I don’t get quite the response I am looking for?
• How might I prepare myself for how I might feel afterwards?
Due the secretive nature of sexual abuse, you may have to educate those who support you as to how to best help you. Some people may really want to be there for you but simply don’t know the best way to do this. Let them know that being a listening ear can be great and if you wish, you can direct them to the section of this guide on “Supporting survivors of childhood sexual abuse”.
Remember, it is your decision and right to choose who to tell and how much to tell. If you feel pressured by anyone to give more information than you are happy to share, it is OK to tell them ‘No’. If you feel unsure as to what a person is thinking, ask them. Their silence might be because they are processing the information you have told them and they might be unsure what to say or do, not because they are judging you.
Who Might you choose to tell?
• A trusted friend or family member
• Online survivor’s groups and forums
• Survivors meeting / support groups
• Counselling through NHS, Rape Crisis Centre, GP or Private Therapist
Once you have disclosed, it may be that you find the courage to tell other people too, or may even consider reporting to the police. Each disclosure may bring up different thoughts and feelings for you to process so be kind to yourself, without pressure or expectations of any kind.
Kirklees Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Service supports women and girls over the age of 16 living in the Kirklees area who have experienced any form of sexual violence or domestic violence.
We also have a project which provides our services to men who have experienced sexual violence or domestic abuse.
We provide free specialist counselling, advocacy and helpline services.
Helpline – 01484 450040