‘I believe you’: 3 difficult words

It has been said that one of the most powerful things that you can say to an adult survivor of nonrecent child abuse is ‘I believe you’.

Why is this so difficult for people? Because in my experience it is almost impossible for people to say, at least people that haven’t experienced it for themselves. On disclosing nonrecent abuse I have been met with everything from ‘Well I don’t disbelieve you’ through a silent, confused look to ‘You must have dreamt it’ and I wont even go into the ‘well all teenage boys are up for it’ type responses!

So why is it so difficult for people?

It maybe that my experience of childhood abuse happened in the home, by a parent. This is something that while making up forty plus percent of abuse cases is something that go against deeply held and engrained beliefs. The belief that family is safe, that parents are loving and that because the vast majority of cases reported on are ‘stranger’ abusers then if it does happen in the family then it must be very very rare indeed.

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