“Hey mom and dad,
I don’t know how to say this, but I think it’s time you knew. Back when I was 13, and we went to that ski lodge party in the Poconos, I was cornered by some strange man. I think he was drunk…”
We sometimes have stories we do not want anyone else to know. But sometimes, we just need to tell them. We may need to scream them from the rooftops and release that soda bottle waiting to pop inside us. It has been shaken and it is just about to explode. Other times, we may have been holding on to the story for a long time, but we finally think we are in a good place to share it.
No matter when or how you decide you are ready to share your story, there can be tons of questions lingering in your head and maybe even some fear. How can you tell those that we care about so much? How can you possibly put that hurt and weight on someone else? Talking to a loved one, especially a parent, is never easy. There are questions of whether or not you will be believed or if you will get in trouble for someone else’s actions. And the truth is, sometimes this does happen. But when you’re ready, there are safe ways to sit down with a parent and open up about what you have been through. It is important to remember to do it on your own timeline and in a safe place. This is your story. You are the leader of your own destiny.
When you are ready, consider:
Writing a letter. Just like the opening of this article, the fictional writer began explaining what happened to their mom and dad. Letters are a great way to open up about everything that happened. You can leave it all on the paper. You can make sure every detail that you want covered is there. Letters give each party a chance to understand what has happened. The writer can make sure they get every detail they want out without being interrupted. The reader can also take time to read and process. It’s also less scary when you are not face to face with someone.
Going out in a public yet quiet place to have the conversation. Being out in public can be comforting because there are other people around. Most of the time, people attempt to be on their best behavior when they are in public. There is generally no screaming, crying, or a big scene. Both individuals can also go their own way after talking. A coffee shop can be a great place to sit and chat with a parent when opening up about a sexual assault or other incident you want to share with them.
Enlist the help of a counselor or therapist. If you already have a counselor or therapist, they are a great tool to help you talk to a parent or loved one. They are a neutral party to help each side grasp what has happened. They can also facilitate conversation between you and your loved ones. A Voice for the Innocent offers a great list of tools in each state.
Have a friend or other loved one who knows your story sit with you. Having a supportive individual with you when opening up to a parent can go a long way. It is comforting to have someone sit on your side as you share what has happened.
It is normal to feel a wide range of emotions when sharing your story, whether it be the very first time speaking it out loud, the first time you share it with a parent or other loved one, or even if you have told your story ten times over before. Anger, grief, sadness, dismay, or anything in between, is all normal and okay to feel. It is important to let yourself feel this and do what is right for yourself in the moment. There is no right or wrong way to talk to a parent or loved one. You can choose to share some or all of your story. You can go into great detail or just skim the surface. Know that when the time comes that you want to tell a parent, you have options, and a whole community that supports you here at A Voice for the Innocent.