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How to Talk to Your Parents about Sexual Assault

Updated on October 5, 2008

Talking to your parents regarding sexual assault, your own sexual assault, is a sensitive subject to say the least. Many times the parents will either do 1 or 2 things. Both of which are not very healthy.

  1. They will blame themselves for not being able to protect you.
  2. They will blame you for being in the wrong place, doing the wrong things.

Again, neither of these reactions are healthy. I find that parents come across as being blameful when they really are not meaning to be. This is a raw emotion and telling your parent that you have been raped exposes a nerve and fills them with great pain. In my opinion, it may not always be in your best interest to share this with a parent. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Will telling my parents change the fact that I was raped?
  2. Will telling my parents provide any comfort for me?
  3. Will telling my parents possibly build a barrier between us?

Let me change directions now. If you were raped, filed a police report, went to the ER and had a rape kit done and plan on pressing charges, then you need to tell your parents. Less than 1% of all rapes are ever reported. If you are that 1% I applaud you and I would say that it is crucial that you tell your folks. You will need the support of your family, friends and victim advocates. So here is how I would address it.

Call your local rape crisis center and speak with a victim advocate. This advocate will help you in every way possible; even helping you share this with your parents. Your advocate will probably go through a role playing scenario where the advocate is the parent and you can practice how you will disclose your story. Your advocate can even be with you when you decide to have this conversation.

Your parents are going to feel a little helpless. Let them know that they can best help you by supporting you, listening to you and letting you deal with this in your way. The advocate will even have resources for your parents because they too will need to heal. Tell your parents that you are sharing this with them because you love them and you need their strength right now.

Be patient with yourself and with your parents. This is a horrible crime that has been committed on you. The wounds are big and they remain open for a while. Remember though, you can be a survivor, you just have to be willing to ask for help.

You will definitely need to seek some type of counseling or support group. Utilize this when you are ready. Keep the lines of commuication open with your folks and use your victim advocate. They are trained and have a passion for helping victims.


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    • profile image

      Anonymous 2 years ago

      I have have been sexually assulted by 2 different people and it hurt me for weeks I was in pain emotionally and phisically. I'm never going to tell my parents because I don't know how they'll react

    • profile image

      Yungvctum 7 years ago

      Why doe the victim have to be a she? I was sexually abused from the time I was 7 to 10. I never told my parents due to threats from the abuser. I recently have been dreaming of this and can not get it out of my head. I had supressed it for 33years and now for some reason it has come creeping back. I don't know what to do. Do I tell my parents at this time or just tell a therapist and leave it at that?

      The only person I have told is my wife and the only reason I had to tell her is because I was talking out loud during a dream one night.

    • msigler4 profile image

      msigler4 9 years ago from Huntington, WV

      Thank you for the comments. I am glad that you have posted them and corrected some of the incorrect stats. My statistics were taken from our local rape crisis center and I apologize for making them appear to be a blanket stat. Thank you for providing the information regarding RAINN. They are a wonderful organization that helps so many.

      I would like to clarify my statement regarding not needing to inform the parents. In my situation, my assault happened over 17 years ago and sharing this information with my parents would, again in my personal situation, do more harm. My hub was written with the best intentions and never did I want to portray that a victim is ever responsible for the assault.

      I think that if it has been a number of years since the assault that the victim should take all of that into consideration. Every victim should seek out professional support as I did a few years ago. I apologize if this hub came across in a manner I did not intend. Thank you again for clarification and for adding the information regarding RAINN. I strongly urge the young lady that requested this information contact RAINN. You can call them or you can even chat on-line with a trained victim advocate.

    • profile image

      Toni Zimmer, MSW 9 years ago

      I must say I am also concerned about the advice you provided. I think it is incorect to say that many parents will respond in 1 of the 2 ways you listed. Some will. Others will become angry with the "perpetrator", while some will be very supportive after a variety of reactions.

      Also, your data regarding the number of unreported assaults is very incorrect. The number is omewhere between 40 and 50 percent. This can be supported by the website:

      It is important that we and the victim understand that she is not responsible. She should seek support. Maddie Ruud did a great job of providing resources in the previous comment.

      To the woman who wrote the original question...please get help and make sure it is from a professional. There are so many resources available to you and you are worth it. By getting help, you can learn to cope with what has happened and keep the perpetrator from hurting someone else.

      It is important to recognize that this is a victim who needs support.

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 9 years ago from Oakland, CA

      I respectfully disagree with some of what you've said here, and I even think this hub might be harmful to some victims of sexual assault.

      Whether or not you filed a report, etc, you still need support from your family and friends. When you've been assaulted, you should not be worrying about protecting others. While anyone would fear the things you've mentioned above (judgement, criticism, embarrassment, creating distance), giving into that fear doesn't help anything. Telling your family about your assault can be a way to reclaim some of the power that was taken from you, and most parents will only be genuinely concerned. If you fear their reaction, you can involve a counselor as mediator (either your own personal therapist, or an advocate from a local crisis center). You can even ask them not to respond to you right away, that you just wanted them to know, and provide them with the phone number for the RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) hotline, where they can speak with a trained operator that can help them deal with the shock and figure out how to better speak to you about it.

      For victims and families/friends of victims, that hotline number is: 1-800-656-HOPE. There is also an online chat hotline available at

    • msigler4 profile image

      msigler4 9 years ago from Huntington, WV

      Yes it is finished. That was a flook or something. Thanks for letting me know.

    • KT pdx profile image

      KT pdx 9 years ago from Vancouver, WA, USA

      Good tips, but is this hub finished? It leaves off with the word "Be".