You’re not alone. The experience of sexual assault and/or domestic violence can be extremely isolating. Some might even say these acts cannot exist without isolation, that perpetrators depend on it. So I would speak against that very clearly and say, emphatically: you’re not alone.
At Joyful Heart, we talk about a society that says, “We hear you. We believe you. And your healing is our priority.” Unfortunately, that’s not society’s central message. Society tends to question, doubt and assign blame. So that’s the next thing I would say: “Tell me what happened. I want to hear.” And then I would listen. Simply listen. Without judgment.
And then I would say to the person how deeply sorry I am for what happened, and I would talk about the resources I think would serve that person best. I always remind myself that I don’t have to be an expert, I just have to care. A lot. If the first organization isn’t the right fit, I’d make sure to stay in the person’s life enough so that I can follow up and try another organization.
Mariska Hargitay, when asked what she would say to someone who has experienced sexual assault or domestic violence. (via oliviatlantis)