If Someone Shares They’ve Been Assaulted Or Raped, What Do You Do?

by Reid on January 24, 2021

If Someone Shares They’ve Been Assaulted Or Raped, What Do You Do?



Find out more with Reid Mihalko from http://www.ReidAboutSex.com and Cathy Vartuli from http://www.TheIntimacyDojo.com.


Cathy: I can’t take him anywhere. So much for it, so and for people listening, Reid’s making coffees and drinking coffee sounds. So someone wrote in and said, “What is the best way to react when someone confides in to you…confides with you about their sexual assault or rape story? What I’m currently doing is thanking them for sharing with me, asking them if it’s okay to give them a hug and asking them what they want to do next? Is that good? Is there gonna follow up? What am I doing wrong?”

I’m here with Reid Mihalko from https://reidaboutsex.com/

Reid: I’m here with Cathy Vartuli from http://www.theintimacydojo.com/. That is pretty darn good.

Cathy: Yeah. And I know more and more people are sharing now. It’s a lot of courageous people out there sharing their experiences and I think that’s a really thoughtful way to respond.

Reid: Yeah. I mean that there’s couple there’s, if you really want nerd out on this stuff, the basic is always for me my advice take it or leave it is, “Thank you so much for sharing or thank you so much for bringing this to me” like whatever that phrases that works well for you. And then the question is, “Please tell me more if that is true for you.” In this instance, you know the response of, what was it exactly?

Cathy: Thank…thanked them for sharing, asking if it’s okay to give a hug and asking what they want to do next.

Reid: Yeah. I would say ask them what they what they would like to do next is perfect. The hug part may or may not be the thing that they need. So you could be like, “Thank you so much for sharing. What would you like next and what is also available is if you would like a hug, I’m here for…for hugging.” So you might want to mix up the order because some people get really vulnerable and then you’re like, “Would you like a hug?” And what they don’t need is touch and they

Cathy: Some people don’t.

Reid: And they might feel bad about saying no to you because some people realized that… that kind of sharing is a lot for people. So now are you asking, if we can hug for me or am I trying to make you feel better because I just shared with you? And that’s the only thing what would be really tricky but that’s pretty darn awesome reply. And then if people say, again this is all just my experience and opinion, if they say they don’t need anything from you then you can be like “Well thank…” you know if they can say no to the hug or whatever just be like “Thank you so much for… for taking care of yourself and thank you so much for sharing.”

Cathy: Yeah and no it sounds like a very respectful way to interact with them. It takes a lot of courage to share and a lot of trust to share those kinds of things with someone. So the fact that you’re being gracious and acknowledging them for it and…and holding space for them is really powerful. It’s very healing to have someone actually hear that something bad happened and that have someone just be there with you.

Reid: And not want to fix it. The other thing that can be tricky about this is when people come to you and share this kind of stuff, asking them what support they need or what they would like to do next isn’t you know you need to check in and figure out how you are gonna handle information and how and what you’re gonna need probably not from them because you know you I think all of us could imagine situations where we find out information of this nature and you now you are in rage because maybe you know the person who is the culprit.

Cathy: Or you just care about the person who was harmed and you just wanna

Reid: And you’re having feels. So…also and this goes for everybody who’s watching this video, think about maybe talk to some… some people, maybe talk to a professional about you know about your thoughts on how you would handle your self-care needs if people brought this kind of information to you. And you know not everyone or not everybody would like a new phrase. Everyone’s wired differently around what they can handle and what they can’t handle, what they need and what they don’t need and that can change from day to day to week to week.

Cathy: One thing that might be useful to add in as well is to find out how much confidential… confidentiality they want around that they didn’t specify, especially when someone’s sharing something that’s really vulnerable, they may just assume that you know not to share. But there are a lot of people out there with the “me too” more people sharing things, they may not…it may not be as confidential or if you need support for someone in your community like how do get that without sharing, you don’t want to share unless you know it’s okay to share.

Reid: Yeah and this is this is where, thank you for bringing that up…this is where it gets a little bit tricky when people asked you “Hey can I…may I tell you something? And you don’t have in your community built in ways of assessing you know what…what you do with that information so like people will come to me and be like, “I need to talk to you about somebody.” And I’m like “Okay, I reserve the right to ask if I can…if I need… if I need help to handle something like so I don’t know what you’re about to share. I want to understand what kind of confidential…confidentiality level do you need on this. And if it’s about somebody that I know and it’s in my community and I think your information puts other people at danger, I want you to figure out what I’m allowed to do with that so that I can know what I’m agreeing to.”

For me as a as somebody who’s professionally like professionally coaches people and works with people, I get paid to keep secrets especially secrets inside of my community because that’s sometimes a lot of emotional work for me to know things whether they’re true or not, it’s usually true…know things and then have to pretend to others like I don’t know things. So again

Cathy: Yeah

Reid: for you with your friends this is very different

Cathy: But if someone reported to you, for example, they’ve been sexually assaulted by someone but they didn’t want you…someone in the community and they want to keep it confidential, that would really tough place to be because you know that person might be doing that to other people.

Reid: Yeah and again like now we’re on but I’m… I’m also dealing with those kinds of stuff as a professional. So I have resources and other people I can talk to and I have protocols and ideas on…on what I would need to do next that feels good for me. So what I do is I check in with people beforehand and say, “If this is a professional thing or it bleeds into my professional world, I reserve the right to not stay confidential, I will be respectful and I will be as appropriate as I can but are you okay with sharing this confidential information with me if I deem it important to take action?” And that’s pretty that’s a layered conversation that you just can’t have with you know your friend who’s not a nerd about this kind of stuff.

Cathy: Yeah.

Reid: So I’m just saying it’s tricky but the checking in about confidentiality is really… really useful and important. And sometimes again, sometimes you’re like “Oh okay, I can totally keep that… that secret.” And you know your mileage may vary.

Cathy: Yeah. We hope this helped and you’re doing a great job. I love how caring and concern you are. So I think you’d be a great person to talk to. Thanks for writing in.

Reid: Yeah.

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