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naivete's avatar

Someone just told me they had been raped as a child. What do I do?

Asked by naivete (2458 points ) July 19th, 2011 from iPhone

I had a conversation with someone who told me they had been raped as a child. They also told me I am the first person they ever told. I was left speechless and was not expecting yo be told. This person is an adult. What do I do? What can I say?

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15 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

My mom killed my dad when I was ten. I was 19 when I started talking about it. I assume that the two things are somewhat similar. So my answer is let them talk if they want to. No need to force things. Admitting what happened is hard enough.. Don’t expect the details anytime soon and don’t force it. If you do you will drive them away.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Not much to say, just listen if they want to talk. And offer to listen, in case they want to talk and aren’t sure whether or not it is okay to proceed.

FluffyChicken's avatar

Be there to listen. Don’t tell anyone else. Offer love and support. Do not judge.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

This is unfortunately a common thing. Just say what you feel, that you don’t know what to say, that you appreciate them sharing something like that, that you will always be available to talk about it in the future as well.

SamIAm's avatar

Listen & let them know you’re there for them. Ask if there is something you can do but as everyone else has said, don’t force it.

TexasDude's avatar

Offer them support.

King_Pariah's avatar

I can say that I sympathize with the person who told you that dark secret of theirs. It’s a really painful thing to let out. Like everyone above said, support them, listen to them when they spill out, and most importantly show them that you believe them and care for them. Most of the people I felt close enough to tell about my past ordeal have shown signs of disbelief, that alone was almost enough for me to decide to fuck my promise of trying to live and just end it, or attempt to again.

naivete's avatar

Thank you everyone for your responses. I will try my best to be there to support this person.

Jeruba's avatar

With no disrespect to anyone who has suffered a physical or emotional trauma, I just have to add a word of caution. Sometimes these revelations are not genuine. I was once told such a story by someone I thought was a close friend. It turned out to be a fiction, one in a long series of increasingly bizarre and complicated lies told to manipulate people’s sympathies. I would just say be a little cautious in case at some point things don’t seem to add up or you think your feelings are being played on for some reason that may or may not be readily apparent.

Sunny2's avatar

I would tell the person that you appreciate the confidence that she had in you to tell you and if she ever wanted to talk about that or anything else, you are available. But you must realize this is a responsibility you would be taking on and you must be willing to take it on. Otherwise, just don’t say anything about it, but smile sympathetically when you see her.
However, just now reading @Jeruba‘s post, you can also wait and see what comes next.

Hibernate's avatar

That means they trust you more than others. When I was put in this situation I asked “why am I the first one to tell?” and they said I inspired trust. I did not force the note and ask for the full story to come out that fast but when they wanted to share they said more than half of the story. Now it all depends how much they told you here… if it’s only “I was raped” then you need to wait for the rest.

JLeslie's avatar

I would just listen mostly. I would guess they are at a point where they need to talk about, amd that is why they finally confided in someone. Try to empathesize with how scary it must have been, and be understanding that it might still affect her greatly even today, deoending on what she is confiding to you. As @Simone_De_Beauvoir pointed out rape and molestation are very common, not that it makes your friend’s experience any less traumatic, just because many women go through it.

Bellatrix's avatar

While I agree with @Jeruba that there is always the chance that the story is not true, I would err on the side of caution and proceed as if it was true. If at some point in the future you find out it wasn’t, you can deal with that then but the alternative is not to give your friend support now when they have reached out.

I don’t think you can do anything apart from as has been suggested, listen, be there for them, if they give an indication they would like help with dealing with their trauma, perhaps try to help them find a support mechanism, a counsellor or support group. Let them guide how things go from now though. They may not want anything other than to have spoken the words.

sophiesword's avatar

I think that person saw something special in you, just don’t let them down.Making the person feel normal within society is a great way you can offer support.You could even get them to talk to other rape victims so that they know they are not alone but do not by any means force them to do so.Lastly if they feel inferior to others just let them know they matter a lot to a lot of people

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

Just give the person a few avenues of help. Other than that, it’s best to mind your own business. How do you know if he’s telling you the truth?

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