Effects on Family and Friends of survivors
Sexual abuse doesn’t simply affect those who have experienced it. It can also profoundly affect partners, families and friends.
Many survivors will not disclose their abuse until adulthood.
Realising that your partner of 20 years experienced such a trauma can be baffling and upsetting.
But it can also help make sense of patterns of behaviour or problems in the relationship, and bring greater trust and understanding. Many survivors find trust and intimacy very difficult, and partners can blame themselves for this.
To be the first person a survivor confides in, can seem overwhelming but it is also a compliment, and it’s tremendous for the survivor to be believed and accepted. It can be a catalyst to moving forward, and to recovery.
However, it is important that you also find support, try:
- Support agencies
- People who understand what you’re going through
Sometimes non-abusing members of families can find it difficult to accept that a child or sibling of theirs has been sexually assaulted, perhaps over many years. This is understandable but can prove damaging to everyone concerned. Seeking help, advice and support is essential to help families deal with highly charged and contradictory emotions.
Abusers can divide and isolate family members, use threats or undermine the survivor. Bringing past abuse into the open is challenging, but also rewarding, bringing people who care for each other together again.
You may feel guilt, confusion, disbelief and anger.