I really like this How-To article. Even though it is written about sexual abuse, it can be used for any kind of abuse victim! I also added my thoughts on some of the subjects.
By ssharon, eHow Member
Chances are you will be affected by sexual abuse/assault at some point in your life either knowing someone it has afflicted or being the victim yourself. There are key reactions the people involved with the victim should have in order to help them in their recovery.
1. Let them know you believe them through not only your words, but your actions as well. This can be the most healing effort for a victim. They need to feel they are believed.
This one is so true, there is nothing I hate more then pouring my heart out to someone about something so personal and then they don't even believe me that it is possible that someone Younger then me could do such a thing. It also makes it so either they trust you or not. If someone doesn't believe you then why would you trust telling them anything else!
2. Let the victim know it is not their fault and continue to reassure them.
3. Report the abuse/assault to the proper authorities.
4. If the accused offender is present in the home, make sure they are required to leave the home while the victim and the offender are getting help.
5. Educate yourself about sex abuse/assault and what it takes for someone to heal from it.
6. Allow the victim to have open, honest discussions with you about how they are feeling and what they are experiencing. They need to have a forum to discuss these issues and not feel embarrassed. Take the time to listen and offer little advice as they just need to feel heard.
7. Be patient with the victim. There is not a timeline as to when they should be healed from the abuse and they may never be completely healed. Don't rush them to "just get over it" at any point.
Yeah, I haven't heard "forgive and forget" enough! When I started dealing with Jack things for the second time, I was first starting to see James. Our foster son Joey had just left and I felt like I needed to explain to my in-laws as to why he left and what I was dealing with. I really do love my mother-in-law, she is very nice and tries her hardest. When Brad and I told his parents about what Jack had done and why Joey had to go. (need I mention he went to his aunt, who adopted him, so it really was for the best) All she said was "forgive and forget". I told Mom B in my letter from last October that "forgive and forget" was NOT what I wanted to hear. Needless to say, my mom told me that maybe I just wasn't ready to hear it from my mother-in-law at the time and I really did! Seriously? "Forgive and Forget" is not comfort, it's not advise, it is just annoying is what it is! Healing and forgiveness takes time, and lots of it! It takes patience and understand that something I'm just too emotional for hubby's side of the family and well, they just have to deal with it and try not to get so annoyed by my emotions! And to be perfectly honest, I have not felt comfortable talking about anything abuse related with my in-laws again. If all I was going to get was "forgive and forget" when why should I open that door again. No, I'm not saying that I expect people to know exactly how to respond and what to say. That's why I have this blog! :) Okay, vent over, moving on!
8. Help the victim get counseling. Encourage them to see a therapist or join a support group.
However, do NOT force them into counseling. This is something that they need to decide to do. Yes it will help them, but forcing them to do so only makes it worse. I remember when I moved in with my aunt and uncle they told me that they were going to have me see a different counselor at some behavioral clinic. When they said that, I set my mind that if they did then I would not talk to this new counselor, not a single word! It took my months to open up to Joy and if they dared made me switch then they would see how I felt about it!
9. Encourage the victim to engage in therapeutic activities-writing, reading, swimming, yoga, other forms of exercise, etc. What activities are healing to the victim? Ask them what they have done in the past that has brought them peace.
10. Get counseling or support for yourself. You need support during this time as well as sexual trauma can be just as upsetting to the people around the victim.