I've read Vicky's blog for a while now and after reading the horrible story of what happened to her daughter, I wanted to write a guest post as the subject matter is something I hold very close to my heart. When my little sister, let's call her Lizzy, was 14 she was groomed by a man who was more than twice her age. It happened in a very similar way to Vickys daughters experience, it started online before he managed to worm his way into our family and then took the abuse to such a level that it makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. Thankfully Lizzy has come out the other side of her abuse and, despite the odds, has grown into an amazing young woman. But there was a time when things weren't so easy and we all had to learn a huge amount in a very short space of time. Today I want to write about everything we learnt and tell you my Top 5 Ways to Help A Victim of Grooming.
1) Listen Always, Speak When Asked.
This was probably the hardest thing for my family and I to grasp. All we wanted to do was ask Lizzy what this monster had done to her so we could try and understand what she had gone through, but it was far too painful for her to disclose to us. Through time, with us being willing to listen whenever she wanted us to, she opened up and let us know some details around what had happened. It's 4 years later now and I still don't think we know the full extent of what happened but she's talking about things every day and that's all I could ask of her really.
2) Give The Victim Choice.
Never try to push the victim into going to therapy or support groups, even if you think it would do them the world of good. The victim has to regain control of their own life, and as much as you may think you're being helpful, pushing them into something they're not ready to do/don't want to do is exactly what they're used to from their abuser. Empathise that it must be difficult for them to talk about it and let them know that there is professional support available but remember, you can only help someone who wants to be helped and who is ready to be helped.
3) Be Patient.
There is no timeframe for recovery from abuse. My sisters abuser has been in prison since 2013 and I still think she hasn't totally come to terms with what happened to her. She definitely didn't start to realise what he had done was wrong until at least 2014. There was a period of time where she hated her immediate family, she thought we had taken her away from her one true love and we were breaking them up because we were jealous. Things like that are hard to deal with, but it just reiterates my point about being patient. She is such a kind, caring girl now and definitely doesn't think about us in the same way she used to.
4) Don't Take Things Personally.
Like I just said, Lizzy hated us for a while, and she said some really nasty, hurtful things that she would never dream of saying in her normal mental state. Yes, it was difficult to not take things to heart sometimes, especially the personal comments, but you just have to roll with it while the victim comes to their senses and realises that you're on their side for life and that the abuser never was.
5) Just Be There.
For me, I found that just being there was the biggest help to my sister. Making sure she wasn't on her own for too long, making sure she was eating enough and doing things like running her baths so she could relax and have time to think on her own. When something awful like that happens to you, you feel worthless and like you deserve nothing, so helping her maintain her self care was of paramount importance when she wasn't capable of managing it herself. Caring for you and another person may take its toll eventually, but it is so worth it when the victim starts acting like the person you know and love again, rather than a stranger.
I hope these tips have helped if you're currently in a similar situation, and I hope they've educated you a little bit if you're lucky enough to never have been in a situation like this. If you fancy a nose at the sorts of things I write about you can find my blog at http://www.dearfreya.blogspot.co.uk
Thanks for reading,