If your friend, sister, cousin, or classmate tells you that he/she/they have experienced or are experiencing online sexual abuse and/or sexual intimidation, it is not strange for you to have a lot of questions. How could this happen? Why didn’t he/she/they tell you about this before?
It makes sense that you have these questions. And, although you probably mean well, they could come across the wrong way onto the person experiencing it all. Telling you about it could already have been a big step for that person. Most people don’t dare talk about what happened to them for years, because they are ashamed, feel guilty, and/or are afraid of the abuser(s).
It is hard. How do you talk about online sexual abuse and/or intimidation? Of course it is a difficult subject to broach, but helping someone is easier than you think. Here are five things you can say, with which you will not miss the mark:
* I think it so very brave of you that you dare tell me about this. Of course I will not share this with others.
* You can tell me anything, but you don’t have to.
* I understand that you are feeling guilty, but you have done nothing wrong. The person blackmailing and threatening you is the one in the wrong!
* F*CK, I am so sorry. I don’t know what to say. How can I help?
* Please, do let me know if you need anything. Whatever you tell me, I will be there for you!
With these conversation tips, you cannot go wrong. You show someone that you are there to support them and not to judge them. The remark: “But why did you have to send that picture?” is often made and can be really hurtful. People can get an even stronger feeling that they are guilty of what happened or is happening. So really, with these simple tips you can make a difference. For more conversation tips, check SlachtofferWijzer.