My survivor friend was letting me in slowly, giving me more information over the course of months that turned into years. I was thankful that she didn’t see shock in my eyes because I was purposeful in keeping my eyes soft and compassionate whenever she took our conversations to her place of hurt and shame. I never wanted to be guilty of ripping the scabs off of her painful wounds. She needed a friend to listen and listen some more. She needed a friend to trust that her memories were true as she was finally able to translate her memories into words. She needed a friend who wasn’t shocked by her abuse, her abuser, or the consequences of her abuse.
I think Dr. Diane Langberg states this concept well in her book, Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse. She writes:
Calling back memories that one has never been able to voice is a massive struggle. Hearing about such things can cause great denial in the listener. Yet we who believe that sin is so hideous as to require the death of God himself [Jesus] should of all people find evil believable.
(Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse, by Dr. Diane Langberg, page 280.)
I am not a professional counselor. But I am a friend to over twelve women who are survivors of sexual abuse, and I’ve had the honor of listening to their hearts over the course of the past fifteen years.
If 1 out of every 4 girls and 1 out of every 6 boys are molested by their eighteenth birthdays, chances are, you have a survivor friend who needs a shockproof friend too.