Together We Heal

Together We Heal is for any who suffer from the trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse. We are here to provide a safe forum for survivors of abuse to share, learn and heal, give direction to those seeking guidance and to expose sexual predators for what they are and their methods of getting into our lives.

Do You Know How to Listen to a Survivor’s Story?

24 Comments

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse (CSA), and having heard the stories of so many others, common questions I hear are – Why does it feel like no one hears me? Or, Why does it seem like no one understands what I’m saying or cares to get it?

I recently spoke with a survivor whose abuse, just as mine, had occurred at the hands of a minister. He said to me in no uncertain terms, “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to enter a church ever again because of what they have done to me. They denied it happened, they wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say. They stole so much from me and when I cried out for help, I feel like no one hears me.”

It was a rare opportunity when one person can say to another, “I know how you feel”, and genuinely mean it. And I did know EXACTLY how he was feeling. For more than 25 years, unless someone died or got married, I didn’t darken the doors of a church. Like him, I felt betrayed, belittled, ignored, and no matter what I told the church leaders, not once did I feel like anyone was listening or cared.

That is until one day, when one brave minister had the courage of his conviction to stand up and defend me. But just as important, he took the time to listen and was patient with me.

And that’s what I have tried to relay to my friend and to so many other survivors. It only takes one person taking the time to stop for a moment and pay attention. To actually listen to what the survivor is telling you. You have no idea the IMPACT it has on our lives when someone finally says the three words we need so desperately…

“I hear you.”

Even if you don’t know or understand what we’ve been through, the fact that you’re taking time to listen makes all the difference in the world. It doesn’t take a degree in psychology or a license from the state to simply listen to a person in need. It does take some things more valuable though, time and patience.

Trust me when I say this, as a survivor of CSA, we don’t want pity or a pathetic look. All we want, all we need…is time and patience. Time; to hear what we need to share. Patience; to fully grasp what we’ve been through.

When those two precious commodities are given to us, it allows us to finally open up about what has snared our lives in turmoil and torture. It gives us the freedom to finally speak out about the atrocities committed against us. When given that chance, we finally have the one thing we lost as a child, Hope. And once there is hope, we now have within our reach the one thing we thought was incapable of attaining, Healing.

I wrote this article with two groups of people in mind. The first being those that know or will meet someone affected by the trauma of CSA. The second being my fellow survivors. If you are in the first group, PLEASE take a moment and give those invaluable gifts of time and patience. If you are my fellow survivor, WHEN someone affords you the opportunity to share, as challenging as I know it may seem, PLEASE be receptive to those gifts. We don’t often feel worthy of it, but believe me, you are.

When time and patience are combined, many beautiful and valuable assets are formed. As humans we look at items like diamonds and oil that require both and are valued in trillions of dollars. How much more so then, is the life of your fellow human when you give them the same care, and the same value. Time and patience, what’s it worth to you?

Copyright © 2013 Together We Heal

Author: Together We Heal

In 2006 David took the first step in acknowledging the sexual abuse that was perpetrated against him from the ages of 12 to 15. During those 3 years, the foundation his family had worked so hard to build within him was destroyed by one man, his youth minister. The result was his heart, mind and faith were lost. After having kept this secret for more than 25 years, he was finally able to reveal to his family and friends the reason behind the addiction and self-destruction that at times had him incarcerated, eventually left him destitute and nearly ended his life. Fortunately he was blessed with amazing friends and a loving family who helped him get the help and therapy he so desperately needed. He was finally able to get clean from the grip of addiction and face the demon of sexual abuse that had clouded his life for so long. Now he and his wife work to aid their fellow survivors through the non-profit they created, Together We Heal. The mission of Together We Heal is to provide guidance for survivors of childhood sexual abuse, educating parents and all adults through public speaking on matters concerning Childhood Sexual Abuse and giving a safe forum for victims of abuse to share, learn and heal. "To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.” - Dr. Seuss Follow us on Twitter @Together_WeHeal "Like" us on Facebook - www.facebook.com/Togetherwehealorg Visit our website - together-we-heal.org

24 thoughts on “Do You Know How to Listen to a Survivor’s Story?

  1. I want to share my story. How will I start?

    • You may begin and write it any way you feel most comfortable. The only request I have is if you give graphic info, just put at the top *trigger warning* so other survivors of CSA will know it might trigger old wounds in them. But this is a safe place for all survivors of sexual abuse to share, learn and heal.

  2. Great information on listening empathy with Survivors. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thank you for sharing. As an advocate for victims I am always eager to learn how I can better stand with survivors.

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  5. Bless those who dare to listen with their hearts. It seems a rare thing in most churches, and some even actively try to silence victims. I’ve dedicated my life to this battle and wish you (and all who share here) blessing in the healing journey!

  6. Sometimes it is a matter of the right time to be ready and able to meet a person who is really listening to you.
    When someone is really listening to you then it really happened but you have enough strength/courage to let another know how terrible it was for you but also to yourself.

  7. Thank you for sharing. As a Darkness to Light facilitator for 7 years I know the goals & the steps to share with trainees. As a trained forensic interviewer I know how to listen & question, but neither of these trainings address time & patience. I think these are are vital components and will certainly share them in my trainings & remember them in my interviews.

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  9. “Seek first to understand before being understood”-Covey Developed listening habits are essential to empathy and understanding. Combined with time and patience, we can best help those who need affirmation, validation, and understanding. Thank you again for the reminder to “listen” more and talk less.

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  11. Reblogged this on Trauma and Dissociation and commented:
    Do you know how to listen to a survivor’s story? The importance of empathy, not sympathy.

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  14. So true, time and patience. I agree. Thanks so much for sharing this.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.

    Kate

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