Should I Tell My Family?

How, when, and if you tell your parents, relatives, or loved ones about the assault are decisions you will have to make. Talking with a counselor can help you work through these decisions. Every survivor’s situation is different.

Not all survivors will tell their family members about a sexual assault. However, when you spend time with your family, they may notice you are acting differently or realize something is troubling you. You may want to think about what you will say if family members ask you if anything is wrong. It can be helpful to talk through how you might respond.

Your family can provide support, assistance, and encouragement. Because they are your family, they may also try to protect you or make decisions for you. The reasons for doing this are varied, but it may feel suffocating, stifling, and controlling. It’s important for them to understand you need to make decisions for yourself. Your family will also be dealing with their own emotional responses to the sexual assault, which may limit their ability to assist you. You may end up worrying about how they are handling the assault rather than taking care of your own needs. This may be especially true if your family expresses their anger by saying things like, “I’m going to find that guy and kill him!” These kinds of statements may not only make you upset but also lead you to believe that because you were assaulted you’ve caused problems for your family. Remember: The assault was not your fault.

Some families may not deal in a positive manner with the assault. They may not talk about it, not want you to talk about it, and try to keep it a secret from others. They may also request that you not tell anyone that you were assaulted, which may make you feel ashamed or guilty. Remember: the assault was not your fault.

Try to talk as openly as possible with your family about how you feel. Some survivors have found it helpful to speak with only one family member and have that one tell others in the family what happened. If you are having a difficult time with your parents, consult the resources available on campus. There are places and people who can assist you.

Many get through each day by taking it minute by minute. Surrounding yourself with safe people who believe and support you can be very helpful.

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