How do I help my friend who disclosed sexual abuse?

by Faye

HOW DO I HELP HER? One of my best friends, she's been physically and emotionally abused by various people, and also raped twice. She tells me about all this, but only to not be alone with it. She won't let me do anything about it. I can't go into detail because I know she wouldn't want me mentioning this, even anonymously, and if she were to find this (unlikely) she'd be very upset. I can't lose her because I'm all she has and I'm afraid of what she would do if she had no one to talk to or call in the middle of the night. This is why I haven't gone against her wishes. But I want to help her because I know she's hurting. Yet it's all things that are impossible to really prove. She has no evidence, only words, and words can be twisted. I don't want to mess things up for her. How can I convince her that we can do something about it? Can we? I'm so used to taking care of myself and my friends without outside help, but this is so so much further than my reach. I'm 17. How do I help someone who doesn't want to be helped?

Reply from Darlene: Faye, I come from a country where there can be no secrets. I come from a country where you would be legally obligated to report what your friend has disclosed to you. The reason there can be no secrets is because as long as people who know about abuse don't report it, then the abuse is allowed to go on. The abuse is enabled.

But this isn't about whether or not you are legally obligated to report; this is about what friends—real friends—should do to ensure the safety and well-being of each other.

The remainder of Darlene's reply to this Ask Darlene question "How do I help my friend who disclosed sexual abuse?" can be found at Comments below this submission. Depending on system activity, there are sometimes delays in comments going live on my site; but rest assured, they do eventually appear. So if you don't yet see them, I hope you will return later to read what I, and possibly others, have written. I thank you for your patience and understanding.

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