Getting Emotional Help: Talking to Loved Ones

You own your story. Only you can decide if it is the right time in your journey to talk about your experience of sexual assault or sexual coercion with loved ones. If you choose not to talk about it, that is okay too. There is never pressure to come forward if you do not feel ready.

Preparation

If you are feeling nervous, you might want to consider writing down what you want to say beforehand. That way, if you lose your train of thought, get emotional, or have a difficult time finishing, you can rely on your notes. It can also help to tell your loved ones what your expectations are of them, so they can prepare themselves.

For example, you might want to open with, “I would like to share something that happened to me with you. It won’t be easy for me to talk about, and it might not be easy for you to hear. I only ask that you listen, and be patient with me.” After the conversation, try to find time to practice self-care.

Time & Location

If you have decided to tell the people you love what happened to you, the timing and location of the conversation can be important. For example, it can help to have the conversation when none of the parties involved are in a hurry — so avoid morning rush hours, or when you or your loved one have an immediate commitment. It can also help to have the conversation in a quiet place you find safe.

Sometimes, even when we say and do all the right things, these conversations might not go well. Our loved ones might be afraid, angry, or triggered themselves, and act in ways that make you feel unsupported.

To prepare for these difficult moments, you might want to consider picking a place you can leave comfortably if you need to remove yourself from the conversation. That way, if the conversation does not go the way you hoped, you can say, “thank you so much for listening. I’m going to need some time for myself now.”

More Resources

BetterHelp

Crisis Text Line

Department of Veterans Affairs: Trauma Treatments

GoodTherapy

Job Accommodations Network (JAN)

National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network

Psychology Today: Find a Therapist

RAINN: How Therapy Can Help

RAINN: Tips for Talking with Survivors of Sexual Assault

TalkSpace

Therapy for Black Girls

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