Even if you’ve never been bullied or harassed, chances are you know someone who has. Sexual harassment can be a big problem for kids and teens, especially when smartphones, online messaging, and social media sites make it easy for bullies to carry out their bulliesm. Here’s are 5 things you should never say to a person who is sexually harassed or bullied if you really care for him/her.
- Oh, I understand totally. (No, you don’t).
Unless you’ve walked the sexual abuse path, don’t say this. And even if you have, no two people will process their abuse or heal in the same way.
- It could have been worse. (Insert worse sexual abuse story here).
This is not helpful. Everyone has a unique story and no matter what level the sexual abuse, it is very real and hurtful to each individual. Don’t minimize one person’s story by sharing another.
- Why didn’t you tell me before?
This is not about you. It’s about the victim. Don’t place a guilt trip on someone if it’s taken her a long time to tell you. Telling is a HUGE risk. Many people are violated a second time because the people they tell don’t believe them, blame them, or flat out walk away.
- That was so long ago, why can’t you just get over it?
In this case, I simply ask, “How long did it take you to ‘get over’ the death of a loved one?” Sexual abuse involves grief—the loss of innocence, the shame of sexual violation, the removing of living life free. I’m not sure we ever “get over it.” We grow. We heal. We process. But there will always be that grief.
- This was part of God’s plan, so you’ll have to make your peace with it.
I don’t even know how to respond to this. I have a strong belief in the sovereignty of God, but I must be honest: I still wrestle with why He didn’t protect me as a small child. I know as a parent, that if I knew my child was being exploited, I would have stepped in. So I still wrestle with God’s ways, and I think I always will. So think before you say this!
Next time when somebody tells you his or her story about, better try avoiding these statements. Try to make him or her comfortable and you can say a few lines like“Thank you for telling me. I’m always here if you want to talk. Can I do anything for you?”
My intention for writing this article is not to shame those who want to help or make them walk on eggshells. Instead, it’s to help friends and family members of victims so that they can help out that person recover faster. We wish all of them a very speedy recovery!