Telling Loved Ones
You should only tell someone about your experience if/when you are ready to, you do not have to tell anyone if you don’t want to. Whether you feel ready or not, this page can help you to think this through and to get some support to make a plan for when you are ready to tell someone.
Talking to someone can help you process and understand what happened to you. You could choose to tell someone you already know and trust, such as a friend or your GP, or you may prefer to talk to someone you don’t know who is specially trained to support survivors, such as one of our support workers.
Telling loved ones about your experience
Each person is different and there could be a variety of reasons for why you may choose to tell someone or not. We each have unique needs throughout our healing journeys and you should share as much or as little as you are comfortable with.
It can be difficult to tell someone about your experience. If you do decide to tell someone, survivors have commented that these considerations have been helpful:
Preparation of telling a loved one…..
You may want to write down what you want to say to your loved one
You may want to prepare some responses so you are ready if they ask any questions you don't want to answer, for example- “I understand that you have questions but I am not comfortable sharing anymore information. If/when I am ready to, I will let you know”. You don't have to share anything you don’t want to and it can be helpful having a response ready just in case.
If possible, you may want to plan to have the conversation in a private environment where you feel safe and won't be interrupted/overheard.
It can be helpful to have the time and space to say everything you want to before they respond. If you would prefer this, let the person know at the beginning that you would like them to listen, and not respond until you have finished what you want to say.
* Remember *
It is your choice who to tell and what kind of support you want.
Your journey is your own, and you are in control. Unfortunately, even with the best intentions, someone may not know how to react, or may have ideas about sexual assault that aren’t great. If the person you disclose to responds in a judgmental or unhelpful manner, please remember that this is reflective of them, and not of you. It’s also important to remember that just because one person isn’t supportive, it doesn’t mean that everyone else in your life will respond the same way.
If you need support following your discussion, call our free 24/7 support line on 0800 FOR HELP and press 0 at the menu to speak to one of our support workers.
If you would like longer-term, specialised support from HELP, please complete our online form and we will be in touch. We support survivors as well as their friends and whānau, so get in touch if you need to talk.
After-care + Self-care
It is important to be kind and gentle with yourself following your discussion with your loved one.
You may not want to schedule anything afterwards to allow for some time to check-in with yourself and to decompress. You may also want to engage in some self-care activities to rest, reset, and rejuvenate following your discussion.
Choosing healthy, positive activities when focusing on self-care is important. Harmful activities, such as using illicit drugs and alcohol are not healthy ways to manage stress, and can make us feel worse in the long term.
Here are some self-care activities that can help you to start thinking about ways to look after yourself:
You can also monitor your self-care activities through a checklist to find which works best for you.