Girl Talk: Left Behind
I have a friend that was sexually assaulted by someone close to her. She’s afraid to tell their family because it might tear them apart. I think she needs to tell someone but she won’t. She thinks about it a lot and this incident changed her. She’s tried talking to a counselor but the counselor freaked out and tried reporting it to the police. This made her really upset and now she won’t talk to anyone. I don’t want to be overprotective, but I am worried about her and don’t know how to help her.
In no way are you being overprotective! You are a truly good friend to want to help her. And you’re completely right – she does need to talk to someone and get help. It’s such a difficult situation to be in, especially when the abuser is someone close to the victim and/or their family (or even a part of the family). It’s understandable that she doesn’t want to cause trouble, but she has to think of her own well being at this point. By no means should she protect this person after they’ve done such a horrible thing. She should protect herself and help prevent anyone else from being abused by this person again.
In many cases, abused people don’t speak up out of shame, denial, fear of making things worse or even fear of not being believed. At this point, the best thing you can do is be there to support her. Help convince her to get help before it happens again to her or someone else, and then be there for her as she tries to deal. Enlist your parents for help as well, because they may be able to help more than you can, and you too will need support of your own to cope with being involved in such a serious situation.
Most importantly, your friend will probably need some kind of therapy or counseling to help her cope with her feelings so she can move on with her life. Help point her to resources where she can get help, like:
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
RAINN is a national organization that helps sexual assault victims of all ages. Trained professionals are ready to assist you 24 hours a day, seven days a week in finding a counselor in your area and getting shelter, if needed. RAINN is completely confidential. Call their National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE. You can also go to their website, rainn.org, to find counselors and resources in your area.