How to tell a friend that you were sexually abused

This weekend I decided to tell a good friend that I was sexually abused as a little girl.

I am tired of hiding and I am sick of secrets that weigh me down and make my interactions with others stilted and wooden. I have nothing to feel ashamed of and I wasn’t responsible for what my father did to me.

This friend has shared personal and painful information about herself with me and it felt natural, normal and healthy to do the same with her. Abuse is such a taboo subject, not the kind of thing one would discuss at dinner parties or friendly get-togethers, yet it is a sad reality for so many.

I am very weary of telling people because I know that it is a heavy subject and I am very conscious of not wanting to burden and upset others. I know I am not responsible for the feelings of others but we have to be responsible with the information we share.

So in the end I told her, I didn’t even know where to begin, but I managed somehow to get it out in a coherent but emotionally charged way. It turns out that someone very close to her was abused by a close family member too.

Sexual abuse of children is rife and you can find its ugly claws lurking everywhere you turn.

My friend’s reaction was to cry, she was upset and saddened by what happened and I am still quite shaken by my revelation. I felt out of sorts this weekend, and this morning it was almost like I had entered a dissociative state. I wasn’t thinking clearly and felt myself being pulled back to the past; feeling small and paranoid. It felt like I was going a bit crazy. Maybe it was my harsh inner critic trying to resist the new me, that wants to be open and honest and stop hiding. Maybe it was the parts of my mind and body that resist the growth and healing.

Anyway, whatever it was, I breathed my way through it and feel ok now. I guess to tell heavy secrets means to stir things up again, to reopen the wound and the emotional residue is a consquence!

In short, there is no right or wrong way to tell a friend that you were sexually abused as a child. Do what feels right but expect that you might not feel very good after.

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12 thoughts on “How to tell a friend that you were sexually abused

  1. Wow. It was in reaching out to others that I found my true support and broke quite free of the ‘family’ creating a new one, more healthy and safe. It was about this time of year, time to plant peas in fact, when my friend and I walked the canal path and at the end sat and talked. Well, I talked, or more so, erupted like a pressure cooker whose lid exploded off. I told her sordid dirty details expunging myself of their grip, like vomiting greasy tar. She listened, those blue eyes like clear water, never faltering or leaving my face or changing in any other way except love.
    My little group of friends have all read my book, but that was after ten years of knowing them. It didn’t change anything, they already loved me. I’d like to say ‘love’ back but that’s very hard, yet deep inside I do believe I’m capable of it.
    Anywho, this wasn’t to be a post, just a huge congrats for breaking the taboo that keeps us caged! WOW, WOW, WOW!
    When you feel supported enough with those around you who really care about you and know you, you’ll be able to tell those that hurt you so much the truth. (If you need to, or want to)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good on you for taking that nxt step ..it is a heavy secret to carry for many years alone and I think the more I tell mine to my family it definitely was just the Era we lived in then and now we are supported more or its becoming more except able to talk out…

    I also understand the disociating pieces I’m very much in that space at present vulnerable exposed and raw ,that my long time friend of disociating has taken over my body in default. .it’s better here!
    But I still think you amazing for moving forward and creating that path to better healing.
    Sending love lisa

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I believe you are just as amazing for doing all the same things. Unfortunately as you say it does leave us open to vulnerability. But I think our vulnerability is a necessary part of healing from all the heavy secrets we carried for so long. Well done for being courageous enough to talk to your family about it. I am not there yet, I have told my brother via email but nobody else in your family. I would like to tell more of my family about it.
      Sending love back to you my friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh it is the worst feeling ever. For days I would withdraw and be lost. It was like reliving crap and then would think that they thought I asked for it. Good on you for doing it though. Cos it takes courage and you are a surviving to thriving . It is the worst secret to hold in yourself all alone for a long time.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for sharing this post. I have shared my story with very few people–in fact, it is only recently that I even told my husband, whom I trust and love dearly. It is very hard to get past the fear of telling, even though it affects me so deeply that in some ways no one can truly know me if I don’t tell.

    Anyway, I’m glad your friend was understanding. I’m not surprised you felt bad at first. I often feel relief at the moment I tell my therapist something, then bad afterwards, and then later it calms down again, and I’m glad she knows. I hope you are experiencing something like that now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I know what you mean about feeling relief and then feeling bad afterwards. I guess it is the process of letting go. We can’t heal what we can’t feel.
      I am glad that you have been able to find people to tell especially your husband. Sexual abuse leaves you feeling isolated and cut off from people and it is hard to let go of the shame and re-connect with people.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. It is so difficult to let people in on the secrets of childhood abuse and especially sexual abuse. I don’t tell many people. 10 years ago, almost nobody knew. Now my circle of about 10 friends knows. Sometimes I feel like it is such a big burden to put on people. I don’t want that information to change the relationship between me and my friends. It really has not changed the relationship with the friends who know. It has, howevet, made it easier to explain some days of sadness and my “time warps” (caused by some dissociation).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes i completely agree it’s not an easy thing to talk about. You have been courageous to tell 10 friends! I think that all the shame and taboo around sexual abuse especially within families prevents people from talking about it openly; yet it is essential for us to have this conversation because thats how we heal and connect with others.

      Liked by 1 person

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