What Do You Do If Someone You Know Is An Incest Survivor?

photograph by Aviva Rowley. ©

"Sometimes when my boyfriend kisses me, I want to cry. I feel so ashamed about my incest. I could never tell anyone. I am sure my boyfriend would leave me and my friends would look down on me, and see me differently." ...............written by a 17 year old survivor.

If someone you love comes to you and tells you she has survived incest or any kind of sexual abuse, the first thing to say is "It is not your fault!" Listen and do not judge. Understand this is very difficult for your friend to talk about. Try to find someone else she can talk to: a friend, a counselor, the parent of a friend, a trusted teacher. Help her to call a hot-line if you can.

Try to help her get out of the house and to find a supportive relative she can stay with. Or arrange to have her stay with you or another friend. Bring her to a trusted adult. You can help your friend tell a trusted adult about the abuse, but do not try to handle it yourself.