If you are Supporting a Survivor of Ritual Abuse

BELIEVE -why would she lie? Only two parties know what happened, the abusers and the survivors. Survivors must be allowed to tell and be believed. Believe what she is saying even although you may find it difficult especially as the memories she is telling may, at first, be fragmented and confusing.

LISTEN - to what she has to say and let her take her time, it will not be easy for her to start talking about events that she has kept silent about for a long time. It may be difficult for her to begin to feel trust in you or safe enough to talk to you.

RESPECT - both her feelings and decisions. Remember she has her own coping mechanisms which have helped her survive the abuse. These may still be needed by her.

REMEMBER - it is not her fault. No-one asks to be abused and she cannot be blamed for any part of it. She cannot be blamed for participating in an act that she did not understand, was forced into, or in which she had no choices that weren't abusive. The blame lies only with the abusers.

RECOGNISE - the courage it takes for a survivor to speak must be recognized. It takes a great deal of courage to face fears and also to talk about the abuse particularly in a climate of disbelief. You must recognized that this abuse does really happen.

What about my Feelings?

You may feel shocked, horrified, upset, sick, etc. by what you are hearing. The feelings you are experiencing are justified, but may add to the upset for the survivor. She may feel responsible for upsetting you and you must remember that you are hearing this, but she has lived through it and survived. It is important to seek support for yourself and further support for her if required.

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If you are going to work with ritual abuse survivors, you must also get educated if you want to be effective. And you must learn to be humble. Trauma survivors do not need to be around ignorant, modern-day Pharisees. Survivors in pain need people who will connect with them on an emotional level, get right down in there where they are, and listen. --Kathleen Sullivan