When someone you know trusts you with their experience of abuse, chances are they have been gathering the courage to tell you their story for a while. Informed by the growing field of trauma-informed care, we encourage a trauma-informed response.
WHAT TO DO AND SAY
Trauma-informed response is characterized by promoting safety, empowerment, and healing in a kind and respectful way.
Listen to them. Sit quietly and listen actively. You don’t need to jump directly to fixing things.
Validate them with statements like:
“Thank you for sharing your experience with me.”
“I am so sorry this happened to you.”
“This is not your fault.”
Let them lead and help them in the way they are asking you to.
Be aware of their comfort; for example, offer a blanket or a glass of water. Sit with them, don’t hover or stand over them.
Be informed. Be aware of resources that might help and how to report abuse if needed. If the abuse is recent or a child tells you he or she has been sexually abused, dial 911 or the child abuse hotline in your state. How to Report Abuse
WHAT SURVIVORS NEED
The guidance provided on this tip sheet comes directly from local survivors who helped us prepare for a trauma-informed care and response workshop in the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
This sheet is not meant to represent or to substitute for the advice or care of professional mental health providers.