[Image Description: ‘Talking about Trauma (to others)’ ]
Telling others about our traumas can be scary. In this post we talked about different ways to talk about trauma but not about how to talk to others about it. Make sure you take some time to amp yourself for telling them, and also to prepare for what happens if things go wrong. Here is a post talking about what to do if someone doesn’t believe you.
There is always a chance that someone will say something victim blaming or be invalidating- and it’s extremely important that you know how you’ll respond and how you’ll take care of yourself after wards if that’s the case. Consider writing down the possible bad responses on a piece of paper/in a document- and writing out what you’ll say in turn. Or if you have a close friend who already knows- see if they’re willing to role play with you both good and negative outcomes.
When considering coming out about what happened- there are a few things you want to look at.
Who do you want to tell?
Your parents? Your teachers? Your boss? Friends? Other family? A mentor? A therapist? A doctor?
Talking to each of these people is a slightly different experience. Even if you do decide to talk to everyone about it- you might approach them in different ways and tell them different details. That’s okay.
How are you going to tell them?
In an email? In a text message? By bringing them to an event where you speak? In a one on one conversation? In a small group? In a note/letter?
Different ways have different pro’s and con’s. For instance telling in an email/text message/letter means you don’t have to be there when they read this. This can feel very impersonal to the person receiving the information- but your first concern should be you. If you leave it like that- you can also leave other materials that might help them understand how to help you better/that you want them to understand before they speak to you. This can held stunt some of the impulsive ‘but how do you know/what were you wearing’ and other such comments that people seem so fond of making.
Sometimes what happened just comes stumbling out but it’s usually better to have some sort of plan. The when can be very important when it comes to the responses that you receive from whoever you’re telling.
In general it’s better to not tell someone if you’re in the middle of a fight or if you know that they’re extremely stressed out. Sometimes there is no other option- and that’s okay, but in general.. neutral times are best to talk about this.
Also, privacy is a thing you might want to account for. Somewhere where you don’t have to worry about other’s overhearing and also that it’s quiet enough that the person you’re communicating with will hear you.
What do you want to tell them? How much detail do you want to go into? Don’t be afraid to set boundaries. You are allowed to say ‘I am telling you this much but I don’t feel comfortable answering questions about it’ or clearly outlining what you are willing to talk about. What you tell is up to you. Be firm if they try to cross the boundary ‘Look, I don’t want to tell you that. This is hard for me as is and you are being disrespectful by pressing the matter’.
Decide before hand what you need them to know. Do they need to know details? Do they need to know that this is why you’re doing xyz?
What do you hope to gain by telling them?
For a doctor- it might be that you’re asking them to be slow with you and understand that you’ve been through trauma.
For a friend- you may be telling them because you need someone to tell- or you might be doing it because you need a change in their behavior.
If so, consider having resources already on hand that you can show them that will help them work with you to make the relationship a healthier place for the both of you. Consider looking through the fos tag or finding articles/blog posts for other individuals.
After the fact:
Take time to reflect and participate in some self-care. Even if everything went amazing, chances are you’re feeling a little drained. Take the time to congratulate yourself for having the courage to speak out- even if it didn’t go the best. By taking time to take care of ourselves afterwards- we increase the chances that we’ll be willing to do it again in the future.
Take care of yourselves today, okay?