Experiencing abuse is a heavy burden to bear without the difficult questions addressed at victims causing them to feel guilty without reason. Suspicious baggage checking is the task of airport security staff, not ours. What we can do is to show support and ease the burden and create a welcoming environment that will help all victims to open up more easily and look for the help they deserve.
YOU ARE LIKE A COUNTRY – YOU HAVE YOUR SPACE, PERSONAL BOUNDARIES AND YOU RESPECT YOUR VOICE IN ANY SITUATION.
Sometimes we have the best intentions when we ask questions than can have a completely opposite effect. The wrong questions girls often hear after surviving abuse:
“Did you flirt with him before that?”
”Why did you agree to meet with him?”
”Why did you send him those photos?”
“Were you with him before?”
“Why did you drink alcohol at all?”
“How were you dressed?”
“Why did you say yes to be recorded?”
“What did you do to provoke him?”
“Why did you give him your password?”
“Did you attract too much attention?”
“Why did you answer his message?”
“Why didn’t you do what he asked for?”
“Why didn’t you resist?”
“Why didn’t you ask for help sooner?”
These questions are wrong as they suggest the girl is in some way to blame for the abuse she survived, either in the digital or offline world – which is never the case.
No matter what the girl did before the abuse, it is not a justification for the abuse to happen. The perpetrator always has a choice not to be violent, that is why THE RESPONSIBILITY IS SOLELY HIS!
Let’s replace the wrong questions with the right answers
The most important thing you can do while talking to a girl who experienced abuse is to believe her
Are you sure that’s really how it happened? →
I BELIEVE IT WAS JUST THE WAY YOU DESCRIBE IT AND THAT’S HOW YOU FELT.
Don’t minimize her experience:
It’s not that bad. → I CAN’T IMAGINE HOW YOU FELT, IT WAS SURELY TERRIBLE IF THAT’S HOW YOU FELT.
and don’t compare it with the experience of others:
My friend had a similar experience, but she didn’t fuss about it for the next 100 years. → I HEARD ABOUT SIMILAR EXPERIENCES, BUT I KNOW THAT EACH GIRL REACTS DIFFERENTLY. I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU NEED TIME TO RECOVER, I AM WITH YOU.
If you notice your friend/acquaintance/sister is deeply hurt and scared, encourage her to look for the help of professionals who have a lot of experience concerning such cases.
And also learn how not to be a silent bystander of violence!