Saturday, November 8, 2008

Helpful Responses

anonymous, this is for you. i hope you find it helpful. still awaiting your email though... these are some responses that people have gotten to their stories that have been found to be helpful towards healing, and that they considered supportive. (taken from pandy's) every person is different though, and what some people find helpful and supportive, others may find offensive, and even destructive. a lot of them are repeats, but i put them anyway, so people can see different responses. i also tried not to change the formatting too much, and did not change any words, which is why some things are in quotes, and some not. the best thing to do is ask...

He ASKED me if it was ok to give me a hug. You know what? That was perfect! I really needed a hug!
And, all he repeated over and over was it wasn't my fault.
I want someone to make it easy for me and ask me questions, and if I'm not ready to answer them to make it clear I can speak to them about it freely.
I need my space so I guess holding my hand would be comforting without invading my personal space too much.
I believe you.
It wasn't your fault.
You are safe in here.
"Do you want us to go beat them up?"
Bottom line, I need a hug. Not just a fast little one, either. I need someone to hold my hand or hug me and not let go.
What always helped me was KNOWING the other person actually believed me. no one in my family takes me seriously OR talks about anything and it was very very nice and a relief to finally be believed.
If they would LET me talk- not interrupting, interrogating, or dismissing me in any way (pooh-poohing, changing the subject, walking/turning away, etc.).telling me that it is OK to talk always helps. letting me know i can say what i need to helps as well.
"The way you reacted and continue to react to what happened to you is perfectly normal and actually common."
They were wrong
You're not tainted
You don't "ask for it".
I love you
You're a good person
I am so *angry* at them. How dare they?
Most of the time, I really want to be held.
That I'm still the same girl, that nothing's changed...
I want to be able to tell someone without feeling ashamed or embarrassed.
I want them to understand mostly.
"You didn't fight back, but that doesn't mean you wanted it to happen."
"Here's some chocolate."
I'm here for you.
I will listen and believe.
"I admire you for still getting up every morning."
"Thank you for trusting me to tell me this important piece of your life."
"We will get through this."
"I can't imagine how hard this must be for you."
"I can see you're hurting very badly."
"You don't have to tell me anything you don't want to but if you ever need someone to listen, I'm right here."
"What can I do to make you feel safe?"
"There's nothing you can tell me that will ever change my respect for you or make me stop caring about you."
"You have every right to be enraged."
I would like to hear "that is rape- this happened to you."
I want to be validated, I do not want it minimized in anyway.
I would want someone to say they were sorry, and be 100% genuine about it.
Personally I would like a hug and to be told "It's going to be okay. I'm here for you"
"I'm absolutely in awe right now of how strong you are that that you went through what you went through, that you survived it and that you're even functional now."
"I am sorry".
"You know I love you and you don't have to tell me, but I feel something is wrong ... I can feel your pain" And so emotional me started to cry and she just held me close to her. Eventhough I couldn't tell her anything that evening it was still the nicest thing anyone ever said to me.
I just am tired of phrases like "getting better", when there was never anything wrong with me in the first place.
Acceptance of what I tell them, without them requiring that I go into graphic details to explain myself.
Something along the lines of: "He had no right to do that to you. He had to have known he was hurting you. You didn't do anything wrong."
My roommate told her boyfriend (since we were in a setting where she thought I might be badly triggered) that I had had something bad happen to me and didn't trust boys and was triggered by certain things. He spent the whole night quietly standing guard over me while I interacted with his close friends without ever being asked, and backed off any time I said it was okay.
i want someone to believe me, say its not my fault, that it was wrong, and im not damaged goods because of it a hug would be nice too
"Nothing is wrong with you. The fact that you're talking at all is impressive."
i think the best response i ever got, was after a year of hinting about my past to one of my friends, i told her someone else's story, and she responded by saying, "sweetie, i'll be over in 5 minutes," and just came and sat with me while i cried.
My dad hugged me. He cried too--it was the first time I saw him cry and I'm still mad at my ex for making my daddy cry.
"That's not okay, that's sexual assault and it happens to a lot of girls."
a hug, because otherwise I feel that i'm too dirty to be touched.
to be believed
to not be asked any questions about it, just what they can do
Someone to watch over me or guard me.
I need to hear "It matters what happened to you, it really WAS that bad, and you don't need to feel guilty about any of it or how your life has been even after it was over."
Don't need to be 'fixed', need to be listened to, respected, understood, and heard with empathy and compassion.
I want them to tell me I can talk or not talk about it whenever I want. And I want to be reassured I can still have a fulfilling and normal life.
Being heard not just listened to.
Not getting what I call THE LOOK. I get it when people ask what's wrong and I tell them I'm dealing with child abuse issues.
Being asked what I need.
I don't know, but I want to be believed and validated. And if it is someone supportive, I dont' want them to suddenly leave (either emotionally or physically, like move away across the country or something).
One of my friends texted this to me after we were texted about stuff. Even though I didn't tell everything, it still meant alot. I love her (in a nice friendly way! lol) Love you too! What happened kiddo? I just want to know your safe. I just want to protect you and I feel like I fail miseraly at it. I'm mad at me.
You are not a victim, you're a survivor
What happened is a chapter of your history not the definition of you
I'm proud of you
i want to hear that they forgive me, even if it wasnt my fault. thats what i want to hear. im sick of people telling me it wasnt my fault... i know that... but it doesnt help me at all. it still feels like it was 90% of the time.
I don't particularly want sympathy about what a horrific ordeal because I know much worse stuff could have happened and i'm lucky it wasn't worse in my situation but I guess I still just want to be validated that it wasn't my fault.
came home that night after therapy and told my spouse he didn't say a word he just cried and then he held me in his arms all night
you did not deserve to be treated that way
hugs would be nice, to... I wish people would offer to hold me once in awhile, then maybe I could feel safe to cry.
I'd like to hear: We can track them down, make them confess, and then we'll give them the maximum sentence and send them to jail for the rest of their miserable lives. Ok, seriously though. I would just like to hear that they were wrong and what they did was evil... that it's not my fault and that I truly can heal.
I'd like people to listen to me if I tell them...I want to be validated for how I'm feeling. I want to be cared for. I want to be treated like a human being after I tell, not a freak. I want people to still see me as ME...and not just my past.
It's not your fault. You are safe here. Your reactions are normal; there are no rules for how you should feel, how you should act and when you should react.
It depends on how safe I feel around some. But a good, solid hug while they tell me that they're there for me helps so much.
At this point, all that I want is for them not to say something lame. I don't expect people to get it or to help heal my wounds but I do want some depth from them. A simple 'wow' with a look of concern is fine... just as I would for them if they told me something horrible that happened to them, serious or just unfortunate.
I try not to expect things from people and to be self-efficient. It's easier that way. And also, it feels good to be able to depend on myself.
the sad thing is, that this is basically the ENTIRE thread on good responses. i was able to copy and past almost the whole thing. the thread on phrases that should be banned on the other hand, was so long, i couldn't go through the whole thing!


  1. K... I've been meaning to say this for a while, hope it comes out right... and don't take it personally, because this post is about me :-P

    I think it's important to realize that inasmuch as you have a very great pain right now, it is painful for others, too. One difference is that while you have been living with your pain for years, to me it's still very new. So if I haven't said or done all the right things -- please forgive me. It's just that I, too, had (have) a difficult time accepting the situation and processing it enough to respond. What's more, being new to the deal, I couldn't have known your personal needs so soon either. My lack of immediate, nurturing responses was a function of shock and adjustment, not because I don't accept you, care about you, believe in you, etc.

    I know I've said some things I shouldn't have. Sometimes I realized immediately and other times only hours or days later. (That's when I hope the short-term memory loss kicks in ;-) ) It's not because I'm mean or insensitive -- just because I'm so not used to this life that I can all but forget -- just want to hang out as if everything was normal, only to remember moments later that it's not the same normal I used to be part of.

    I'm sorry. Please forgive me.
    And just as you'd like people to be understanding, accepting, and supportive of you -- please accept and understand me as I learn to be a better friend.

  2. it's ok, sheffele, i don't actually expect people to necessarily react in all these wonderful positive ways right away. but i do think that it's good for people to know what we find helpful and harmful. this is not the best response to what you're saying, but i'm kinda in a rush...i'll try to do a better job a little later!

  3. ok, here's my second attempt at a response! if i'm repetitive, it's cuz i'm not rereading what i wrote, only what you did, k, sheffele?

    first of are part of the same normal as you were part of all these(##!!) years. you just have a little (a lot?) more knowledge than before. besides, what's that we say about normal? ;-P if you realize later that you said something you shouldn't of, you're doing pretty well. some people only realize if i say "please don't say xyz, abc, and lmnop when talking to me" so...yeah. i hope you get what i'm trying to say.

    personally, i really don't think you're doing all too bad at this! that said, if you feel you need forgiveness, it is definitely readily granted, although you're welcome to tell me for what, cuz i honestly have no clue!!


c'mon, i know you're reading this! what do you think?