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Advice for Friends and Family of Survivors

We understand that learning someone you care about has experienced such trauma can be overwhelming and challenging. This page aims to provide you with information on how you can support a survivors while also taking care of yourselves during this process.

Understanding Childhood Sexual Abuse

This form of trauma can have long-lasting effects on the survivor’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Survivors may struggle with feelings of shame, guilt, fear, and self-doubt. Their healing journey requires patience, empathy, and a non-judgmental attitude.

How to Support Survivors 

  1. Listen without Judgment: One of the most crucial ways to support a survivor is to be there for them with an open heart and a listening ear. Allow them to share their feelings and experiences without interrupting or passing judgments.
  2. Believe Them: Trust and believe the survivor’s account of the abuse. Survivors often face disbelief or scepticism, which can be retraumatizing. Your validation can be incredibly empowering.
  3. Respect Their Boundaries: Be mindful of the survivor’s boundaries and avoid pushing them to share details they are uncomfortable discussing. Let them set the pace for their healing journey.
  4. Educate Yourself: Take the initiative to educate yourself about childhood sexual abuse, its effects, and the recovery process. Understanding the subject better will help you provide appropriate support.
  5. Be Patient: Recovery from childhood sexual abuse is a complex process that takes time. Be patient and avoid placing expectations on the survivor’s healing timeline.

Looking After Yourself 

Supporting a survivor can be emotionally challenging, so it’s essential to prioritise your well-being as well.

Don’t hesitate to talk to someone you trust or seek professional support for yourself. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, and discussing your feelings can be helpful.

Supporting a survivor can be emotionally draining, so set boundaries to avoid burnout. It’s okay to take breaks when needed and ensure you have time for self-care.

Be kind to yourself and avoid self-blame. Remember that you are doing your best to support your loved one.

Consider joining support groups for friends and family of survivors. Connecting with others who are going through similar experiences can be comforting and helpful.

Supporting a survivor of childhood sexual abuse requires empathy, patience, and understanding. By offering unconditional love and a non-judgmental presence, you can play a crucial role in their healing journey. Remember to take care of yourself along the way, as this journey can be emotionally demanding.

Here are some additional resources and sources of information you may find helpful

Support For Family & Friends – Safeline – Believe in you – Surviving sexual abuse & rape


Guidance for Partners of Survivors of Childhood Abuse – Dabs

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