With the recent allegations of abuse against Harvey Weinstein, social media has become a hotbed of harassment and abuse stories. Knowing how to respond when a friend shares her story can be difficult, especially when showing support is definitely, absolutely triggering you and there’s no real way around that. In the thick of the #metoo phenomenon, here’s how to listen and be supportive for other women while still being completely triggered by them, obviously.
Believe Them Openly
Many women are wary to share their sexual assault because they are worried that they won’t be believed. Reassure other women openly that you do believe them, because being public about your beliefs encourages others to do the same. Of course, saying “I believe you” will be painful since you would also like people to say, “I believe you” to you regarding your own assault story. Wow, it’s amazing how much emotional labor it takes to support other women. Too bad sexual assault is inevitable!
Create a Safe Environment
Do your best to create a comfortable and safe space for a survivor to discuss anything relating to their assault. You can also create a safe space online by private messaging someone or starting a secret group for women to come together and share and hold back the fact that you are fully absorbing the pain of the stories they tell you because this has happened to pretty much all of you in one way or another. Pretty incredible how women must not only heal from their own assault, but also help others, while also trying not to relive their own story everyday!
Let Her Dictate The Conversation
Sexual assault can take away a victim’s feeling of control. In showing support for another woman, give her the space to decide how the conversation unfolds. Let her choose what to talk about and when to talk. You may not agree with how another woman proceeds after being assaulted, but it is not your place to tell her what to do. But then again, if that triggers you, focus on what you want to do, because you have your own assault to recover from as well. Wow, this is all really complicated actually? What a world we live in, where women not only recover for themselves but help others recover as well. Sure, you’re drained, but who isn’t? Oh, that’s right – pretty much every man!
Here are a few ways to show support for other women, despite being triggered by the many stories shared. And don’t stop there, educate yourself about how hard it is for survivors to make cases and win legal battles, because that is also your job! Cool!