For every man, woman, and child who has been a victim of abuse, there are those family members and close friends who have shared the pain. If a person you love is hurt, you will naturally be hurting for them. The life of a parent whose child has been molested will be forever changed. The life of a wife who discovers her husband has been abused will change. Maybe you’ve never experienced abuse first-hand but your child, sibling, parent, spouse, or best friend has. Often, people in that situation will experience guilt, anger, depression, or any number of similar feelings. Mothers of abuse victims are especially susceptible to self-blame. The desire to protect their child will be turned into guilt that they could have done more to prevent what happened.
Secondary victims will often feel overwhelmed with the new responsibility of helping their loved one through the trauma of abuse. And, often, they won’t know where to even start. Notice the similarity to the emotional and mental side effects experienced by primary victims (those people who experienced the abuse first-hand). That being said, secondary victims need healing, too.
If you’re one of those people who has been the support, the listening ear, the care-taker of a survivor of abuse, be encouraged. What you are doing is extraordinary.