Resources

____________________________
 
____________________________
 
____________________________
 
____________________________
 

Resources for Family, Friends, Partners and Loved Ones

Supporting an adult who experiences the effects of childhood trauma is challenging as well as rewarding. A `trauma informed’ approach to interpersonal relating to them can make many positive differences. Its key principles are safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment.

A trauma-informed approach minimises the potential for upsetting and destabilising interactions. It rests on awareness of the impacts of trauma, and recognises that many problems faced by survivors are trauma-related. It thus understands the links between `past’ traumatic experience and current challenges of everyday life.

Fact sheet

Download Supporting Recovery: a Blue Knot Foundation fact sheet for friends and family of people who have experienced childhood trauma

 

"Supporting Recovery"

is a short video for family, friends, partners and loved ones who are personally supporting an adult survivor of childhood trauma and abuse.

Blue Knot Foundation provides a range of services, resources and information for family, friends, partners and loved ones of adults who have experienced childhood trauma and abuse.

The Blue Knot Foundation website provides a range of resources, including fact sheets, videos and other useful information on supporting those on their journey to recovery from traumatic childhoods.

Additional support can also be accessed by calling our Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380

Role of Family, Friends, Partners and Loved Ones

Tips for good listeners

  • Stay Present:
    Keep your attention on the person speaking and what they are saying.
     
  • Don’t Give Advice:
    Don't give advice unless it's specifically requested.
     
  • Trust The Process:
    Don't dive into solutions until the speaker has said what they need to say.
     
  • Let Things Even Out Over Time:
    When you offer support during a hard time, you help them come through it, and they will support you too when the time comes.

Friends and partners are important allies for survivors of child abuse, but survivors often struggle with communication and trust in their close relationships. Romantic relationships can be especially fraught. When a survivor decides to address the impact of abuse on their life, this can put even more stress on a relationship or a friendship, as the survivor can quickly feel overwhelmed as painful emotions and memories flood back. Partners, in particular, can be left feeling unloved and unappreciated. 

It's hard to watch someone you care about in pain, and some people walk away. Carers and supporters can often feel helpless as they watch their loved ones struggle with issues that they may not understand, however, simply "being there" with a survivor as they try to reconnect with the world makes the journey all the shorter. Partners and friends don't need to be heroes. It's a fine line to walk between offering support, and trying to "rescue" someone, but it's an important one. Survivors need people who are constant, consistent and trustworthy presences in their lives. "Rescue" fantasies are just that - fantasies.

During periods of crisis, or when the survivor is incapacitated, partners and friends can experience high levels of stress. The day-to-day of looking after someone and caring for them is hectic. For many partners and carers, being confronted with reality of child abuse, and its consequences, can challenge their understanding of themselves and their world. Just as survivors can feel alone on their journey, so can their partners. They too can feel as though there is no one to talk to, as if no one understands.

It is important that partners and friends develop clear boundaries, and look after themselves. Caring for a survivor can be an opportunity for warmth, intimacy and joy. Friends and partners can develop new faculties of empathy and understanding. Looking after a survivor means that, in the future, you have a friend or partner who is happier, stronger, and able to give back the support they have received.

 
"I am the partner of a survivor who was sexually abused as a young boy.  I have written a poem about how this has affected me as his best friend, wife of 30 years and our family. I have found that partners are often 'invisible'. 
 
I lost;
my best mate
my partner
my lover
my rock
my protector
my sounding board
my son's support
 
I miss;
his jokes
our laughter
his cheeky smile
his strength
sharing
working together
intimacy
the connection I had with my sons
 
I stay;
while he tries hard to get better
while I still see a glimpse of him every now and then
trying to cope behind the facade
while he reaches out when I need him
while there is hope.
 

Thanks for all the support from your organisation. My husband & I recently attended a workshop. It was overwhelming to meet others
and the facilitators who actually 'get it'. We have already been able to implement some changes in our life which has helped us.
Please keep up the good work, we need you." 

By Louise

How should you respond when someone you love tells you they were abused as a child?

How should you respond when someone you love tells you they were abused as a child?

Tips for good listeners

  • Stay Present:
    Keep your attention on the person speaking and what they are saying.
     
  • Don’t Give Advice:
    Don't give advice unless it's specifically requested.
     
  • Trust The Process:
    Don't dive into solutions until the speaker has said what they need to say.
     
  • Let Things Even Out Over Time:
    When you offer support during a hard time, you help them come through it, and they will support you too when the time comes.

The first person to receive the news that someone was abused as a child is often a person the survivor feels they can trust - such as a best friend, family member or a partner. Blue Knot Foundation recently developed the following set of guidelines to help others better support adult survivors of child abuse who are talking about their abuse, often for the first time.

The need for survivors to tell someone what happened to them as a child can eventually become overwhelming – and the response someone receives in that courageous moment can be as powerful in its impact as it would be to a young child.

Those who experience childhood trauma often retain enormously high vulnerability and sensitivity levels and can close down again very quickly if their attempts at speaking about their abuse are not heard empathically. Whilst professional help is important, for a survivor, having someone in their personal world for support through the process can be enormously beneficial. There is a lot others can contribute as part of the inner circle of support for adult survivors of child abuse.

Blue Knot Foundation recommends the following steps for those who find themselves in the position of needing to support a person they are close to through the experience of opening up.

1. Listen, don’t judge: Recognise that in disclosing information of this magnitude, this person has placed an enormous amount of trust in you. They may be scared of how you’ll react or concerned that you won’t believe them or that your feelings towards them may change. They may have inappropriately blamed themselves for the abuse for years as many survivors do and may fear that you will blame them too. It can be difficult to know what to say or do to help a partner or friend disclosing childhood abuse. Listen empathically and without judgement; let the survivor know that you care and that you believe him or her. Rather than offering advice you may not be qualified to provide, ask them what they need, if there’s anything you can do to help. They need to know that you are there for them if they need you and that you will listen if and when they want to talk. They especially need to know that your their childhood abuse does not change the way you feel about them, that you still love and care for them.

2. Try to keep your own emotions in check: When someone you are close to discloses that they were abused as a child you may experience a range of emotions. Initially you may be in a state of shock, struggling to make sense of what you’ve heard, confused as to what to say or how to help. You may feel angry and upset, angry with the abuser and even with your partner for not telling you earlier. It may help to understand that your partner may have consciously or subconsciously blocked off their abuse so they could get on with their life. Disclosure means not only facing it but also dealing with its implications. This process is far from easy and can only happen when a survivor feels ready and safe enough.

3. Remember, talking is part of the process of recovery: Disclosing these experiences goes a long way towards robbing the abuse of its potency. Even though the effects of abuse cannot be completely erased, they can certainly be diminished, and coped with in a healthier way.

4. Encourage them to seek professional support: Professional help can be of tremendous value to survivors attempting to overcome the negative impacts of their abuse. Recovery usually proceeds more quickly and more safely if survivors are working with a skilled professional. In a relationship with an ethical and clinically appropriate therapist, the client experiences safety, respect for boundaries, sensitivity to needs and validation of both the abuse that occurred and the role of recovery in creating a happy and meaningful life. Blue Knot Foundation provides workshops for survivors, when funding permits, which helps them understand the way their childhood abuse may have affected their lives and provides them with tools for positive change.

5. Continue to listen and support them: Recovering from child abuse can be a winding path - a repeated traversing of the issues, layer by layer and piece by piece. Survivors need lots of support when dealing with their abuse but they often struggle with communication and trust in their close relationships. The process can put a lot of stress on a friendship and relationships, as the survivor can quickly feel overwhelmed as painful emotions and memories flood back. It's hard to watch someone you love or a friend in pain, and some people walk away. Friends can feel helpless as they watch their survivor friend struggle with issues that they may not understand. However, simply "being there" with a survivor as they try to reconnect with the world makes the journey shorter. Survivors need people who are constant, consistent and trustworthy presences in their lives.

6. Support yourself through the process: During periods of crisis, or when the survivor is incapacitated, partners and friends can experience high levels of stress. The day-to-day of supporting a survivor dealing with their abuse issues can be fraught. For many partners, confronting the reality of child abuse, and its consequences, can challenge their understanding of themselves and their world. Just as survivors can feel alone on their journey, so can their partners. They too can feel as though there is no one to talk to, as if no one understands. It is important that partners and friends develop clear boundaries, and look after themselves. It is important for partners to find ways of caring for themselves and a network of people including counsellors and/or therapists to speak with if they wish. Partners or survivors can ring the Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380 for support or for the name of a therapist/counsellor to approach for help. Blue Knot Foundation's educational workshops for survivors and their supporters have been developed with the needs of adult survivors of child abuse in mind. These are run on rotation around Australia when funding is available, more information about these workshops can be found here.

Many survivors feel that they have few people to whom they can talk, or from whom they can seek and receive support. However, it is important not to try to recover from abuse in a vacuum or to stay isolated. Learning to trust others and to turn to them for support is a crucial step in recovery. Doing so challenges one of the basic notions arising from a history of abuse: namely, that people are dangerous. If you are a survivor of child abuse trust your own feelings. Choose people who are interested in you, who care for you and who can engage with your situation.

Latest Articles

Partners

Health Direct

 

Testimonials

“Blue Knot Foundation has a key role to play in the building of community capacity in care provision to those who have experienced childhood abuse and trauma in any environment.”

NIALL MULLIGAN Manager, Lifeline Northern Rivers

“I think Blue Knot Foundation is a fantastic support organisation for people who have experienced childhood trauma/abuse, for their families/close friends and for professionals who would like to learn how to more effectively work with these people.”

Psychologist Melbourne

“It's such a beautiful thing that you are doing. Helping people to get through this.”

ANONYMOUS

“It was only last September when I discovered the Blue Knot Foundation website and I will never forget the feeling of support and empathy that I received when I finally made the first phone call to Blue Knot Helpline, which was also the first time I had ever spoken about my abuse.”

STEVEN

"At last there is some sound education and empathetic support for individuals and partners impacted by such gross boundary violations.”

TAMARA

Contact Us

Phone: 02 8920 3611
Email: admin@blueknot.org.au
PO Box 597 Milsons Point NSW 1565
Office Hours: Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm AEST

Blue Knot Helpline
Phone: 1300 657 380
Email: helpline@blueknot.org.au 
Operating Hours: Mon-Sun, 9am-5pm AEST

For media comment, please contact:
Dr Cathy Kezelman AM
0425 812 197 or ckezelman@blueknot.org.au

For media enquiries, please contact: 
Christine Kardashian, Group Account Director
0416 005 703 or 02 9492 1007 or christine@launchgroup.com.au