Talking to Someone About What Happened

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Telling someone about your experience, whether it is currently happening or is a past experience, can be difficult. You should never feel pressured to tell someone about your experience. It’s your choice if you want to talk about what's happened and if so, how much you want to share.

Talking about it can help and some days it might feel easier to talk about it than others. You might not feel up to talking, but writing how you’re feeling down in a diary or in the notes app on your phone, or making art, or writing music or poetry can be another good way to cope with how you’re feeling. Find out more about other ways to express your feelings.

If you are in immediate danger you should call 999, if you can.

Who can I speak to?

Who you chose to speak to is entirely up to you. You can tell a parent, a trusted adult or a friend. If you don't want to tell someone you know you can contact a helpline. Helplines can provide a good listening ear and you do not have to give any personal information if you don’t wish to but it can help if you are seeking advice. It's up to you how much you wish to share.

To find out about all the helplines available visit our page on support information.

Confidentiality

You might be worried about talking to someone in case they tell someone else. Depending on how old you are and who you chat to, some people may have to tell someone else about what happened to you. This is because they have a duty of care to make sure you are safe. They should tell you that they’ve got to tell someone else – like a social worker for example – before doing so.

The main thing to remember when you talk to someone about what happened to you is that it was not your fault – and that it’s never too late to speak about what happened.

The right time

There is not a set right time for talking to someone about your experience in an abusive relationship. It’s up to you and should be your choice to make.

Try to go somewhere quiet and private if you can. Depending on your local restrictions, you might be able to meet someone outside for a walk or go to a café for some cake and hot chocolate. Find out what level you are in here.

If you can’t meet face-to-face, a video call over Skype, Zoom, Messenger or FaceTime can still feel quite personal.

You might want to set some rules before starting the conversation. This could involve saying that you would like them to listen to what you have to say or tell them that you’re not comfortable answering any more questions about it.   

Talking in person to someone

You might want to tell a trusted adult first. This could be a parent or carer, a GP, a teacher or a youth worker.

Or you might want to tell a friend first – this could be someone you’re really close to or someone you think would be understanding and helpful. If you talk to someone you know, it's important to keep in mind that friends or other people you are comfortable chatting to aren't trained in these kinds of conversations and that they might not know how to react.

If you get a reaction that isn't supportive or is unhelpful it doesn't mean that you've done anything wrong. You still deserve support, but it might just be from a different person. Talking to a specialised service can be useful in this case. Check out all of the support services you can contact. 

Talking to someone over the phone or online

You might feel a bit more confident calling a helpline or using a webchat/email service. Not being able to see the other persons reaction may make you feel more comfortable. Plus some people are just better at writing about how they feel rather than speaking it out loud – and that’s okay too! It can be a good way to figure out exactly what you want to say.

Plus, the people working at specialist services have highly trained people on the other end of the computer or phone.

This is what a young person had to say about talking to Scottish Women's Aid about their experience:

I had spoken to loads of people about how I felt before, but it was different when I went to Women’s Aid. It was like my support worker just knew what I was talking about, I didn’t have to explain it again

Check out all of the support services you can contact.

After

After you tell someone about your experience you might feel a bit emotional because talking about the past can be difficult. You might also feel a lot of mixed emotions, relief from getting it off your chest but also sadness because you had to remember negative experiences. Whatever you’re feeling is completely valid and normal.

It’s good to schedule some self-care or downtime afterwards to check in with yourself and how you are feeling. It can be quite emotional telling someone about your past experiences so be sure to take care of yourself afterwards. This can be doing something you enjoy like cooking, doing some exercise, watching your favourite show or eating your favourite food.

You can try these relaxation exercises as part of the Aye Feel campaign.

There are also some guided mindfulness practices like yoga, a home workout, a facial massage and meditation.

Staying safe

If you are in immediate danger you should call 999, if you can.

If home isn't safe, particularly during COVID-19 restrictions, it can be a good idea to get someone you know and trust to call you regularly to check you are okay.  If there are places you could go where you would feel safe, and you know that certain people would be able to help immediately, it could be a good idea to set up a code word with them to let them know you need help. This could be something you say to them on the phone, text them, or message online. Make sure everyone knows what this is in case you need to use it.

Pack a small bag with a change of clothes, essential medicines and important documents (passport, birth certificates). This is to take with you if you have to leave home quickly. Take bank cards and any money you have. 

Find more tips on how to stay safe.

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