How do I tell someone?
The first step is deciding who you might tell. This can be a difficult decision and often people are fearful of the reactions they might have. Try thinking about people in your life; if something difficult happened to them would you judge them or would you want to help and support them?
If you can think of your friends and family and how you have listened and supported them over the years, even when you have not agreed with decisions they have made I’m sure you can think of people who would do the same for you regardless of the situation.
Talking about what has happened can be very difficult, so take it slow and read through the steps below first.
- It is best to choose a location that feels most comfortable for both of you. Some people like to choose a neutral location as it can reduce the pressure.
- Wherever you chose to discuss it, make sure you have time and space alone to talk so there are no distractions and you can talk openly.
- It can be helpful to have ‘set’ their expectations first so when you arrange to speak to them let them know you have something important and difficult to talk to them about.
- If you are in a neutral area, think about where and how you sit. Try not to be in a location that has children as that may add to the pressure on both of you. Place your chair so that you are facing away from anyone else in the room – that way you are likely to feel more comfortable about being open and discussing the issue.
- Make it clear that you are struggling with dealing with the situation and you needed to talk to somebody who you value and who is an important part of your life. Say that you need someone to listen to and explain to them how they can give you support.
- Ask them to keep what you tell them private; not to talk openly about it or to disclose it to other people without your consent. Be respectful to the fact that some people may need to speak to someone close to them for added support (for example a friend may wish to disclose to their partner if they are finding it difficult to deal with).
- Don’t be too forceful when asking for support – be aware that different people will react differently to what you tell them and some may not feel able to give you the support you need. Hopefully they will be supportive, but if they respond negatively you need to respect that too.
- Try to judge how much you tell people, based on your knowledge of them. There is already a lot for them to deal with – they do not necessarily need to know everything at the first meeting.
- Be aware that some people may have experienced sexual abuse as a child and not told you about it. This does not necessarily mean they won’t support you, but it may affect how they react and feel about the situation.
- Some people may have very strong opinions about how you should deal with the situation. For example, if the offender is your partner, they might encourage you to leave them even if you don’t want to. Be respectful, acknowledge their opinions and discuss how they can support you despite having different views.
- Try not to speak too fast. Try to speak in a structured way which enables the person to sit back and listen. Be prepared to take breaks – it is a lot for both of you to deal with and take in.
- Allow the person time to reflect on what you have told them. It may be that you need to give them space and agree to contact them at a later date.
You can find out more information about disclosure here within our Anonymous User section.