Sometimes people don’t know what to say. One of the other bloggers I follow gave a great list of helpful words to say to someone with PTSD/CPTSD. However, please keep in mind that abusers use kind phrases and twist them to hurt their prey. So I’m giving you a heads up that these are not fail proof. They up your chances to finding words that might help another person that is hurting in ways that others might not see.
My counselor used many of these with me. Over and over and over before I started to believe some of them were true. The one that stands out in my mind as Earth shattering is when he said, “I believe you.” I struggled with processing this simple phrase. Somebody finally believed me. The whole ugly truth was not dismissed as some flight of fancy or an oversensitive whiny person. He actually believed me. Further conversation assured me that he wasn’t saying words to make me feel better. He actually believed me.
I caution anyone to avoid using a phrase you don’t believe. Abuse survivors are used to being lied to. Many can spot a fake in a New York minute. Backing your words up with actions is vital in building trust with a survivor. Trust is fragile or non-existent. Proceed with caution. If you were helping to care for a burn victim you could see the damage done all over their body. Emotional damage doesn’t show up like burns but is also painful. What seems tender and kind may feel like rough sand paper to a survivor. Survivors want to interact tenderly and kindly with others, what that looks like and feels like may need to be taught and guided. I am fortunate that my first counselor understood this process of teaching me to trust another person.