Childhood abuse can have long-lasting and harmful effects on a person’s mental and emotional health. Supporting a friend or loved one who experienced abuse as a child can be a critical part of their recovery.
Continue reading to learn about ways to support an abuse survivor, including understanding the impacts, listening and validation, creating a safe and supportive environment, and connecting them to resources.
Understanding the Impact of Childhood Abuse
Childhood abuse can affect individuals in various ways, including physical, emotional, and psychological harm. It can cause them to experience shame, guilt, and self-blame, leading to negative self-image and low self-esteem. Additionally, it can lead to trust issues that make it difficult form healthy relationships. Understanding the impact of childhood abuse can help you provide the necessary support and validation.
One of the most important things you can do for someone who was abused as a child is to listen without judgment. Acknowledge their feelings and experiences.
Let them share their story at their own pace and avoid interrupting or minimizing. Validate their emotions and experiences and let them know it was not their fault and they are deserving of support and love.
2. Believe and Support
Accounts of childhood abuse are often met with skepticism or disbelief, which can exacerbate trauma. It’s essential to tell survivors that you believe them. Accept their version at face value and refrain from suggesting how they could have handled the situation differently or better.
3. Create a Safe and Supportive Environment
Creating a safe and supportive, non-judgmental, and sympathetic environment is key for survivor healing. Making people feel comfortable to share their experiences and emotions is an excellent way to show support.
Encourage your loved ones to take their time and share as much or as little as they feel comfortable with doing.
4. Connect Them With Resources
Numerous resources are available to individuals who experienced childhood abuse, including therapy and support groups. Encourage, and offer to help, your friend or loved one seek out these resources. You can also direct them towards hotlines and websites that offer resources and support.
For example, EndCAN’s survivor community support group, Louder Than Silence, through Inspire, is a free, online community of support groups where people can feel safe, be authentic while anonymously sharing their experiences, and learn from other people who have “been there.”
5. Respect Their Boundaries and Decisions
It’s crucial to respect your loved one’s boundaries and decisions. Healing from childhood abuse can be a long and difficult process. It’s important to be patient and understanding with your loved one, while offering support and encouragement along the way.
Whatever a survivor chooses to do with their story is their decision. Respecting this autonomy will empower them on their healing journey.
6. Educate Yourself on the Impact of Childhood Abuse
Unless you’ve experienced childhood abuse, it’s difficult to understand the trauma it can cause. But, by researching childhood abuse and learning about the different types and impacts, you can better understand the challenges your loved one may face.
7. Take Care of Yourself
Supporting someone who has experienced childhood abuse can be emotionally taxing. It’s also important to take care of yourself and seek support from others. This can include friends, family, or a support group for caretakers of abuse survivors.
Supporting survivors of childhood abuse can be challenging, but it’s a critical part of their healing journey. It requires patience, understanding, empathy, and a non-judgmental attitude. Your love and support can be incredibly beneficial for their recovery.
Help Us End Child Abuse and Neglect
If you’re an adult child abuse survivor, EndCAN is always here for you with valuable resources, including information and tips about parenting and support to help you learn and heal.
Your help matters. Consider making a generous contribution today, to will help us continue providing support for adult survivors.