If someone you love has been victimized but does not want to report sexual abuse, it can be difficult knowing how to help them.
Once they have entrusted you with their story, you might feel hopeless if they decline to speak to authorities about the assault. Fortunately, there are still many ways you can be an asset to them and aid them through the healing process.
Why Someone Might Be Apprehensive to Report Sexual Abuse
First, it is important to understand the variety of reasons your loved one might not want to report the abuse.
- They might be concerned that people won’t believe him/her.
- A victim might have fear about the criminal justice system.
- Their abuser might be someone they thought they could trust.
- They might believe that they “deserved it” based on events surrounding the attack, such as drugs or alcohol consumption.
Having empathy, patience, and understanding is vital in your role as a supporter.
Listen Intently and Believe Them
If your loved one is not ready to seek immediate legal action, you can be a supporter by just taking the time to listen to them. Rather than asking a lot of questions, let your loved one know that you believe them and will do your best to support them. Reassure them that they are not alone, and refrain from judging or placing any blame on the victim. Here are a few appropriate responses you can share with your loved one or friend:
- “Thank you for sharing.”
- “You are not to blame for what happened to you.”
- “You didn’t deserve what happened to you.”
- “I’m sorry this happened to you.”
- “You are not what was done to you.”
- “I support you in your healing process.”
- “I respect you for addressing this.”
- “I love you.”
Encourage Them to Get Help
Your loved one might not be ready to report sexual abuse, but they need to understand the other options they have at their disposal.
Medical Assistance- Encourage them to go to a hospital or a nearby Planned Parenthood Center for immediate medical attention if the sexual abuse happened recently. Offer to drive them there and sit with them throughout the examination.
Therapy– For the long term, encourage them to see a licensed therapist or counselor to discuss what happened.
Community Support Groups- Recommend joining a community support group. Your nearest Planned Parenthood Center can connect you with these groups in your area.
Sexual Abuse Hotline– We are lucky to have a national sexual assault hotline available at all times. Suggest to your loved one that they reach out to RAINN for confidential and professional support.
Don’t Pressure Them
Ultimately, you cannot force your loved one to take action regarding their abuse. Your role as a supporter is to be patient and understanding. Provide them with recovery options, but never pressure them into moving faster than they are capable of. If they do decide to report the abuse, you can help by offering to be there with them.
Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton is Here For You
If you or a loved one is ready to report sexual abuse, Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton is here to help you hold those responsible accountable for their actions. If you decide to pursue action against those who caused you harm, our team will stand by you. It is never too late to get the help you need.
We have offices in Provo, Orem, Saratoga Springs, and West Jordan, Utah. Contact us today.