STEP 1: Stay as calm as possible and listen with a caring heart.
I know this is hard, but it is important for you to stay calm so that you can HEAR as many details as possible. If you interrupt your loved one with your intense (but understandable) emotions, you might miss important details and s/he may not feel comfortable to share more information with you in the future.
STEP 2: NEVER SAY THE FOLLOWING STATEMENTS!!!
You may experience a flood of mixed emotions, but the MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR YOU TO REALIZE is that the abuse your loved one experience is NEVER EVER HIS/HER FAULT! DO NOT SAY:
Don't Say: "How come you didn't tell me earlier?"
Never blame your loved one for not telling you an sooner than s/he is now! BE HAPPY that your loved one is telling you at all. Because of psychological manipulation and implanted fear, most victims of sexual abuse NEVER TELL ANYONE. So consider yourself blessed if your loved one trusts you enough to tell one of the most shameful parts of their past.
Don't Say: "I don't believe you"
This is one of the WORST THINGS you can say to a victim of sexual abuse. You risk damaging your relationship with your loved one for life. I understand that it is hard to understand why it might have taken so long for your loved one to tell you, and it might be hard to imagine the perpetrator (usually a family member of friend of the victim) would ever do such a thing. However, it is important for you to know that MOST OF THE TIME (93% of the time), the perpetrator and victim know each other. And most likely, YOU know the perpetrator too. So automatically, you may feel many feelings such as confusion, anger, guilt, sadness, disbelief, and denial.
Don't Say: "Well, don't tell anyone anymore. It is better to just move forward and forget about it."
The ONLY WAY for a victim to heal is to tell the truth. Again, the fact that your loved one chose YOU to tell the truth to means s/he trusts you to hear and honor and protect him/her. The reason he/she didn't tell for so long because his/her perpetrator(s) instilled fear and shame into her very being so that s/he would never tell.
It takes incredible courage for a victim to FINALLY tell the truth. Instead of further shaming the victim by encouraging him/her to keep it a secret, you should encourage your loved one to tell more people and YOU should tell people too on his/her behalf so that family member, friends, and your community know the truth.
The truth clears up past misunderstanding and protects the community.
Don't Say: "You must have been promiscuous and led him/her on. You deserve what you got."
Unfortunately, many victims hear these sorts of ignorant and cruel statements from their family members. This is an absolutely disgrace when a family member or friend tries to blame and shame the victim when the blame and shame 100% belongs to the perpetrator.
Here is a definition of what sexual assault is from RAINN.ORG:
All forms of sexual assault are NEVER EVER the fault of the victim. Please read this article to familiarize yourself with the different types of sexual assault.
STEP 3: Continue to stay calm and JUST LISTEN.
The more you allow your loved one to speak and tell you details, the better. When your loved one is welcomed to tell the truth, you are helping your loved feel safe and to heal. Never force your loved one to tell you more than she/he is ready to tell you. Just listen and be happy that your loved one trusts you enough to tell you anything. Telling the truth for a victim of sexual abuse is more challenging than you could ever imagine. Things you can say here and there to foster trust and to help your loved one heal are:
"I BELIEVE YOU."
"WOW, THANK YOU FOR HAVING THE COURAGE TO TELL ME. I KNOW IT MUST BE HARD FOR YOU TO FINALLY TELL THIS TO ME."
"WOW, THANK YOU FOR TRUSTING ME ENOUGH TO TELL ME."
"WOW, YOU ARE A SURVIVOR. NONE OF THAT WAS YOUR FAULT. NONE OF IT."
"I'M SORRY THIS HAPPENED TO YOU. YOU DID NOT DESERVE THIS."
"YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I AM HERE FOR YOU."
STEP 4: THANK you loved one for telling you the truth and continue to offer your loved one support.
After your loved one is finished telling you his/her story, THANK him/her for sharing this with you. Tell him/her you feel honored that he/she trusted you enough to tell and you will continue to hold his/her heart with gentleness and care. Check up on your loved one regularly to make sure your loved one is okay. Tell your loved one you are here for him/her and that you will help them to heal the best you can.
If your loved one's perpetrator is still alive, it may be a good idea to press charges to protect the community from this perpetrator. Perpetrators often abuse dozens if not hundreds of victims within their lifetime. Your loved one is most likely NOT the only victim of this perpetrator. You and your loved one may not feel ready to press charges because you may be afraid to break up the family or make the perpetrator angry. But realize if you do not press charges, you may put many more people in danger. Here is information on how to report sexual crimes. I highly encourage you to read it: https://www.rainn.org/reporting-and-criminal-justice-system
STEP 5: Feel free to book a phone call session with me!
Many secondary survivors (loved ones of survivors of child sexual abuse) struggle with knowing exactly how to best support their loved one after this initial conversation. I am here for you! Let's get on a free call together to brainstorm what can be done to help your loved one who survived such atrocities. BOOK AN APPOINTMENT
More resources on how to talk with survivors of sexual assault:
WHAT INITIATED ME TO CHANGE MY STYLE
Soooo... this is a real PERSONAL blog. I feel like I need to process my thoughts, so I'm just going to do it here. After my mom passed away two years ago in September 2016, I immediately felt the urge to dress more modestly. I am not exactly sure why. But I think when she passed, something clicked in my head and I realized that if I continued to dress in my hippy ways with cropped tops and no bras, I would attract unwanted attention more often. I don't know why it took having my mom to die for me to get this lesson, but it did. They very next day she passed, I started to wear bras everyday.
I felt a strong urge to change my entire wardrobe, but I didn't know to WHAT exactly. Then I heard a fun fact about "successful people." I don't remember the source or author, but I remember the message. I learned that if you look at the histories of successful and happy people, they are currently doing what they loved to do when they were CHILDREN. So I thought to myself, "What if I apply this concept to my new wardrobe? What did I love to wear when I was a child? If I wear what I loved to wear as a child, then according to that study, I would have a higher chance of being successful and happy!"
Straight to my old family albums I went! What did I like to wear then? My eyes grew big as I discovered in EVERY SINGLE PICTURE, I wore only big puffy princess dresses and bows! Then the memories started to come in, I ALWAYS loved to dress up, wear my mom's make-up, and look pretty. I was OBSESSED with drawing princesses. I loved to sing and and do ballet. I was a GIRLY GIRL all the way!
I closed my eyes and imagined myself wearing these kinds of ensembles as an adult and I felt a grin spread across my face. This vision brought joy to my heart and butterflies to my stomach. I took a pen and a blank piece of paper and started to sketch princess dresses with puffy sleeves, hair bows, socks with ruffles, and Mary Jane shoes. I have never seen an adult dress like this in my life, but I did a Google search to see what I could find and where I could get these clothes.
ENTERING INTO LOLITA LAND
And that's when I re-discovered Lolita fashion, a cutesy, girly way of dress in Japan that is inspired by Victorian clothing. I had seen images of this sub-culture before, but I had totally forgotten about this since most Americans don't dress like that here. I felt like I entered a whole new, magical world as I scrolled through Lolita fashion online stores. I ordered a few dresses, and my fashion started to evolve into something that felt and looked more like "me." It was as if my insides finally had the opportunity to be expressed on the outside.
For me (at this point anyway), I don't like to dress way over-the-top in full coordinate Lolita outfits. I don't like wearing wigs like most Lolitas do. So really, I only dress partially Lolita. I guess you can say my current style is "inspired" by Lolita fashion, but is not fully Lolita. I would not mind wearing wigs for photo shoots. But for the day-to-day, I just like to put on a dress with a petticoat underneath, Mary Jane shoes, and throw big bows into my hair.
I don't think there is anything "wrong" with dressing in full coordinate Lolita outfits like many girls do in Japan, some parts of Europe, and other places around the world, but for me, it is just too "loud" for my preference. I just like to dress up like a doll and still be recognizable as "BoYee" lol.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF ATTENTION FROM PEOPLE
When I started to change my fashion to "Lolita-inspired," I did notice I received different types of attention though. Many people were delighted and would tell me I looked pretty or like a doll. Others would ask if I had just come from a Cosplay convention lol. And lastly, a few naysayers would put me down and tell me I am dressing the way I am because I was abused as a child and I am trying to "recapture" my childhood. There were only a couple of people who ever said this to me, and they were very negative people in general.
I noticed the happier and freer I am, the angrier unhappy people get around me. It is so sad to me when this happens because all I want is for everyone to heal from their wounds and I want to support people in becoming truly happy, but toxic people try to break me down as if I were their enemy. There is no need to get unhappy when others are happy. There is more than enough Love to go around to fulfill each and every single one of us, and this source of unconditional Love comes from God/Jesus.
Even though I received compliments from most people with my new wardrobe, the few seeds the toxic people planted in my head grew and I became insecure. I wondered to myself, "Oh my gosh. Am I dressing like this because of my past, or would I have been drawn to this fashion regardless of what happened to me? How would I ever know? Should I not dress like this? Will this promote pedophilia? Will people think I have mental issues?" I started to feel shame and guilt, as if I did something wrong, even though I didn't.
I felt violated all over again, but this time, I felt violated by those female naysayers who surprisingly were also abused sexually as children. Of all people, I thought they would be kind and supportive of a fellow survivor. But instead, they tried to break me down just like my stepfather did. This was a big learning lesson for me. Just because someone experienced something similar to me does not mean they will become compassionate and understanding. In fact, they can turn out to become the very opposite. Everyone chooses to respond to being abused differently.
This experience with the two naysayers happened months ago. And now, I have come to a place where I eliminated all the narcissists (that I know of) from my life. I've been purging so heavily. Friends (new friends and old friends) were showing me their true colors left and right. My narc detox was intense and thorough. It was freeing for my soul, yet sad for my heart because I didn't realize how many people in my life were so narc-y and I had to distance myself from them for my own safety and and to experience the best possible recovery (We can't heal if we keep allowing people to hurt us. We have to stop the bleeding if we want our wounds to heal).
NARC ELIMINATION TIME!
As I eliminated narcs from my life, this made room for old relationships (with friends and family) to blossom and for new amazing relationships to come into my life. Two of the relationships I have now are with people who REALLY REALLY LOVE LOLITA FASHION! This has been a big blessing in my life because I now feel safe to dress and express myself fully without being judged. Instead of judging me, they will EMBRACE me for expressing myself in the way I truly want to.
THE MOTIVATIONAL VIDEO THAT CHANGED MY LIFE!!!
I have been listening to this YouTube video lately about letting go of my past and moving on. There's a quote in this video that especially reached me: "If you're not going to talk about something during the LAST HOUR of your life, then don't make it a top priority during your lifetime!" This hit me strongly because I used to say, "I live everyday like its my last!" Amazingly, this quote takes it even farther and makes me think about the very hour in which I am living!
So then I felt a bit conflicted. I wondered to myself, if this really was the last hour of my life, would I want to make YouTube videos and talk about my past and the narcissists who abused me? And the answered I heard in my head was a resounding, "NOOOOOOOOO!!!" Instead, I would want to enjoy my last moments with my loved ones in nature, dancing and singing in a pretty dress with gigantic bows in my hair... I don't care to become famous. I don't care about getting people to like me or approve of me anymore. It is such a waste of energy! I am saying all of this because I have to admit, as a YouTuber and performer, there was a time in my life I thought getting rich and famous would be the most amazing thing in the world. But now, I just want to live a quiet life, a more private life. But at the same time, I still care about survivors and I want to give survivors hope that they can heal.
LIGHT BULB MOMENT!
And so that quote gave me a LIGHT BULB MOMENT. If I put ALL my energy into living the life I want now with the people who matter the most to me and investing into my passions (getting closer to God, dancing, and singing), then THIS WOULD HELP SURVIVORS IN THE GREATEST WAY POSSIBLE!!! They will see that it is also possible for them to live the life of their dreams, whatever that would look like for them!
It doesn't take much to make me happy. I am simple, really. I love God, dancing and singing whilst wearing big bows in my hair with my loved ones around me!!! Also, I love nature, simple healthy food, and a clean living place that smells fresh. That's it! Oh, and I looooooove to laugh! My friend Anita makes me laugh the most. When Anita is around, you can almost count on me choking on my water or food 99% of the time because she makes me laugh SO HARD LOL!!!
THE LESSON I LEARNED
Anyways, I've come to my conclusion. On my YouTube channel, I will give myself PERMISSION to feature the things that matter to me the most because I want to live as if I am in the LAST HOUR OF MY LIFE!!! So I probably will talk about my past a lot less. Most of you already know what happened in my past; I've talked about it in many videos now. There's not much more to say or process about the past anymore. I feel like my latest videos have been very helpful to myself and others. However, I will just get to a point where I will just be scrambling about my past over and over again. I mean, how many different perspectives do I need to look at my past from? I think the most empowering and helpful perspective for me at this point is: "Gee, that really sucked. But I'm gonna forgive and move on now and focus on what I love."
A QUESTION FOR YOU...
This really is the most empowering way to think and act as a survivor. We only have so much time and energy every day. What would do in your LAST HOUR OF LIFE ? Something to reflect on... and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
Wow, and this all started with me trying to process whether or not I should wear Lolita dresses lol. I'm happy I found the underlying lesson. It was never really about dresses to begin with.
The lesson is to give yourself permission to LIVE NOW, FULL-OUT!!! This is how you truly take your power back from all the people who abused you (as if they never even existed) and heal and thrive ALL THE WAY!!!
How does one believe in love again after surviving child sexual abuse? Most survivors live most or the rest of their lives in BONDAGE. They are stuck in anger, shame, guilt, depression, self-pity, and hopelessness even AFTER the abuse stopped. This is such a pity because the blame and shame does not belong to the survivor. The blame and shame belongs to the perpetrator.
And so, if you have survived molestation yet you still live in world trapped by your fears and feelings of unworthiness, THEN YOU HAVE CONTINUED TO GIVE YOUR POWER AWAY TO YOUR PERPETRATOR.
If you continue to believe the lies that your perpetrator told you in order to brainwash you so that you would endure the abuse, THEN YOU HAVE CONTINUED TO GIVE YOUR POWER AWAY TO YOUR PERPETRATOR.
If you continue to live a life where you neglect your spiritual life, your physical health, your financial responsibilities, your relationships, THEN YOU HAVE CONTINUED TO GIVE YOUR POWER AWAY TO YOUR PERPETRATOR.
If you stopped believing that love and trust can be developed between you and other human beings, THEN YOU HAVE CONTINUED TO GIVE YOUR POWER AWAY TO YOUR PERPETRATOR.
IT IS TIME TO TAKE OUR POWER BACK NOW. And the BEST WAY to take our power back is to get our lives together and THRIVE! Remember, we do not need to do this by ourselves, and we are not supposed to! We can lean on God. He is there for us to lean on, and sometimes we will need to lean on Him hard!
When you hear that little voice that you won't be able to do it, that you might as well give up now, that you are worthless- know that this is coming from the devil!!! Laugh at that silly voice! You have God on your side. Never forget. You have come so far already. You have survived. Keep going, beautiful. This healing journey is not easy, but it is worth it.
God created YOU for a very special reason. You are here on this planet to do God's will in a special way that ONLY YOU can do, no one else. If you have forgotten this, read the Psalm below to remember how special you are, and that you must keep going and push yourself to thrive. Don't let your perpetrator stop you from being who you are supposed to be!!! Don't waste another second giving your power away to him/her/them.
Psalm 139 (NIV)