The other day a friend of mine mentioned she was going to have lunch with a mutual acquaintance of ours. Without thinking (not usually a great strategic move) I said “Well, make sure you don’t tell her anything you don’t want repeated.”
My friend, who is generally pretty “wide awake” regarding such things, looked at me somewhat aghast and said, “What do you mean, she and I have been friends for years. She wouldn’t repeat anything I asked her not to.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Are we talking about the same person? The girl who spreads gossip so fast her nickname is TMZ?”
“Yes, but she wouldn’t do that to me. I’m her friend.”
Now, I have a feeling I don’t need to tell you how this turned out. By dinnertime an “item” was on Twitter, Instagram, and everywhere else online that girl could think to put it!
Hidden Agenda? Not so much. In actuality it was right out there in plain sight. The girl/woman had a reputation for ruining (or at least coloring) reputations. But when we are upset, or excited, or traumatized, we often don’t use our best judgment. Someone could be wearing a sign around their neck that said “I tell everything” in big black letters, and we’d still confide in them! That’s how great the need our soul feels to unburden itself after any violent trauma.
Some people withdraw, unconsciously hoping someone will notice and ask them what’s wrong. Others take their anger out on those they love most, without ever realizing, or explaining, why they are really angry, causing even further misery for all concerned.
But a lot of survivors who feel the need to unburden make smarter choices, and you can too. Here are a few guidelines for beginning to tell your story:
- Choose only a person with whom you are 100% comfortable
- Make sure they are in no way a threat to your livelihood
- Ideally, tell a professional (a counselor or a therapist)
- If choosing to tell family members, tell a “trusted” one with a reputation for keeping confidences first (for instance, if your grandmother is a sweetie but blabs everything, don’t make it her)
- Be aware that if you are still in harm’s way for further abuse, even though they may not want to betray your confidence, people have/feel an obligation to tell a professional or a parent, and they will. That is to keep you safe, not to betray you. But that’s generally only if you continue to remain in harm’s way, and it is for your own survival.
If you need a coach along the way, I can work with you one-on-one to help you on your journey. In the meantime, I hope this blog helps you realize you are no longer alone, and someone truly cares.
See you next time, Coretta
Coretta Dixon is a highly regarded businesswoman and sexual assault survivor. Her own traumatic experiences and exemplary work done through the healing process, along with her Master’s Degree and business experience in Change Management, equip her well to act as a coach to those who have done the work of healing and now wish to “thrive.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email me at email@example.com and tell me to whom you first told your story, and why they were chosen. Would you recommend the same choice to others? Let me know why or why not.