Help for Those in Crisis
Incest is a devastating and traumatic experience that causes lasting harm for survivors and their families. (See our page on What it is & How it Affects People for more information on the effects of incest.)
There is help for survivors of incest who are in crisis or who have just disclosed abuse. As a bystander, there are many ways you can help them stay safe and get immediate support. (Visit our page on Personal Support Options for more survivor resources.)
Offering personal support for survivors: As a supporter of an incest survivor in crisis or who has just disclosed their experience, at times it may feel overwhelming and bewildering. You may feel that you don’t know the best way to help the person you love, or be at a loss for how to respond to someone disclosing abuse to you. NSVRC’s Guide for Friends and Family of Sexual Violence Survivors is a good starting point for learning how best to help a traumatized person of any age.
Here are some ways to assist incest survivors with multiple and sometimes immediate needs, both in the short and long-term:
The “me too” organization has an excellent directory for crisis and sexual assault services and organizations that is searchable by location, community, need, and abuse experience.
Stop It Now! has helpline, email, and chat options that provide tools and guidance for initiating difficult conversations about sexual abuse, planning actions to keep children safe, and coping with a crisis.
These quick tips for offering empathic, non-judgmental support to a survivor disclosing incest to you will help the survivor you care about feel loved, believed, validated, and not alone. This advice for offering continued support to victims may come in handy.
If you know or think you may know a child survivor, RAINN’s “I am a Kid and Something Happened” page can be a good introductory source of advice and reassurance for children, written in language they can understand. These books for children and teens about consent and sexual assault can get conversations started and help youth understand sexual abuse and begin to heal.
Parents of a child experiencing incest have a lot on their hands and minds following disclosure of the abuse. Here are some ways parents can support their child while processing their own difficult emotions.
Reading and sharing these resources with recovering survivors on topics such as therapy, safety planning, self-care, and disclosure can help both you and the person you’re helping to heal and connect.
As a romantic partner of an incest survivor, you will most likely encounter relationship challenges at some point. Survivors of Abuse Recovering provides links to programs and services to help you navigate those waters together.
Helping someone report to law enforcement: The decision to report incest is a personal - and often very difficult - decision to make. Regardless of age, survivors who are ready to report the crime will undoubtedly need a lot of support from loved ones to work their way through the complexities of the process. For a comprehensive overview of reporting to law enforcement, what to expect through the criminal justice process, and other related topics, RAINN is a good place to start.
Connecting an incest survivor to others who understand their path: Recognizing that many survivors are members of marginalized groups - such as black, brown, and indigenous communities and members of the LGBTQ community - it’s important that survivors have support and help from people who understand their culture, sexual orientation, or gender identity. For some survivors, reading about the journeys of others can make them feel less isolated and alone. RAINN’s collection of written and videotaped Survivor Stories explores the many ways survivors have experienced and healed from sexual assault. Survivors of Incest Anonymous’ 12 step support groups provide opportunities to share in person, virtually, or over the phone.
The National Sexual Violence Resource Center has compiled a list of websites and resources offering support and help for survivors, which may be a resource you can share with your loved one. It can be accessed here.
We hear your cries! You are loved.
- Rachael Cain