Supporting a Survivor During the Holidays

Sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people.

-Elizabeth Green-

At The Younique Foundation, we usually focus our attention on survivors of childhood sexual abuse. This blog is directed at the people who love and support the survivors in their lives. In a previous blog we talked about ways for a survivor to break the silence. After breaking the silence, survivors need support; this is especially true with family gatherings that are often part of the holidays.

If a friend, family member, or loved one has confided in you about their childhood sexual abuse, you have been given an opportunity to become a part of their support system. Family gatherings can be filled with emotion, especially for a survivor.

Below are three ways for you to support the person you love during the holidays:

1. Listen to what they need.

This is important any time you interact with a survivor, but especially when they are going to be in potentially stressful situations. Ask them what you can do, what they need, or how you can support them. If nothing else, let them know that you’re there to listen and support.

 2. Be a buffer.

If topics, situations, or people come up that may make the survivor uncomfortable, intervene. You don’t need to be pushy or obvious, just guide the conversation in a different direction. If you can see that they need a break, intervene on their behalf and give them the excuse they need to leave the room.

 3. Create a safe space.

Perhaps you won’t be able to physically be there with the survivor. You can still be supportive and loving, even from a distance. Give them permission to call or text if they need extra support. Allow them to vent if they need to do so. Let them complain or cry. Be the safe person they need if they need it.

Holidays can be a difficult time of year for anyone, but if you know that your friend or loved one will be especially at risk, be there for them. No one should be without someone to support them. If you can be that person for someone, feel grateful that they trust you.