Seeking Help After Trauma
Sharing Your Story

Question

How do I disclose my trauma to my friends and family?

Answer

It can feel really daunting to talk about your trauma history with those close to you. The first thing to remember is that your story is yours and yours alone. Whether you want to tell important people in your life immediately, much later, or not at all is your choice. If you’re feeling ready to tell someone about what happened, here are some things to think about. What you share about your story is completely up to you. Even if the person you disclose to asks for details, it may just be because they do not know what to say and want to understand. Still, just because someone asks doesn’t mean you need to say more than you planned. Example wording to use could be “I wanted to tell you what happened to me but I don’t feel comfortable sharing any details right now.” The way you choose to tell someone is also up to you. It can be in-person, over the phone, or in a letter. There are benefits and drawbacks to all options but only you know what will work for you. No matter how you choose to tell someone, it is a good idea to set some ground rules first. If you choose to disclose in person, timing and location is important. You want to ensure the person can give you their full attention and have time to process afterwards. Thus, if the person is about to run out the door, go to sleep, or is intoxicated, consider waiting for a better time. If you feel safe with the person you are disclosing to, choose a private, quiet place to talk. If you fear they might become angry or violent, a public location may be safer and you might want to have support on standby. You deserve to feel heard and understood when telling your story. However, not everyone responds well to disclosures and the conversation may not go the way you hope. The person you tell may feel many emotions. While this is normal, it can shift the conversation away from you and onto them. The person you disclose to might also express doubt or blame. This says more about them than you. Resist the urge to internalize these responses. If someone in your life isn’t supportive, that doesn’t mean that others won’t be. Research shows finding at least one trusted support can really help the healing process. It is also important to note that even if the conversation does go well, it can still be an emotional experience. Thus it is important to take care of yourself afterwards no matter what the outcome. There are many people out there who love and care about you. You are not alone. If you want to practice telling your story of trauma or healing anonymously, and learn from the disclosures of others, go to ourwave.org. We see you. We hear you. We believe you.

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