I really like this thread idea, and, in light of the bitterness of my last post, I thought it would be good for me to remember the nice responses I've gotten from people, too.
Honestly, some of the sweetest and wisest responses have come from survivors here. I've received nothing but encouragement, inspiration, and empathy...which has helped me to regain the courage to keep digging for more strength.
But I have also been fortunate enough to have supportive friends whom I see. I can't think of the best examples of specific words they've said to me...but I do remember some responses--especially after telling my story for the first time.
After collapsing from crying so hard after a flashback during my high school days, I was sent to the principal's office...and, of course, everyone in the office wanted to "talk" with me. But they seemed more nosy than genuinely caring, so, naturally, I wasn't about to clue them in. I expressed to them that I really wanted to see my friends, but they wouldn't let me because they thought I might be a danger to myself or others...and no one wanted to supervise me. But, then I said, "I'd really like to *talk* to my friends." And they starting hunting down my friends and sending them into the nurse's office (the part of the main office where I was). One friend of mine offered to get me my favorite food and also got my favorite bottled water. She had everyone else go with her except the person I wanted to talk to most, so that I could have some privacy. Then, my other friend that stayed asked me if I wanted to talk and assured me she would keep it completely confidential if that's what I wanted ('cause I knew the staff only let her in if she would agree to report back what I said). I wasn't ready to tell her what was going on, so she just sat there with me for the remainder of her lunch period, and that meant everything to me. After lunch, I made something up for the principal (migraine headache) and got released back to class. Outside, a group of about 20 people--some of whom I barely knew, were waiting for me. Each person hugged me individually and said things like, "I love you," "We were so worried about you," "I hope you feel better soon," "We're so glad you're back. We thought the principal might have eaten you for lunch!" or, "We're here for you," or even just, "Marie..." I was amazed by my crowd of friends. At the end of the day, I was exhausted. The same friend that sat with me through lunch sat with me for the bus ride back. She let me curl up in her lap...and she just held me, gently brushed back my hair with her hand, and watched to make sure I was safe as I slept. I will never forget that day. I have never felt so safe.
Eventually (months later), I called her and told her I wanted to talk about what had happened...but I didn't know how to start. She asked if it was okay if she guessed...or if that was something I wanted. I told her yes, that might be good and answered yes or no to some questions she asked. Some of the questions she asked were funny (one of her greatest gifts is making people laugh) and some were serious. I was finally able to choke out the words, "I was raped." Then, I went silent again. She helped me to feel like it was okay to talk about by sharing that she had several friends who had been sexually assualted and she saw how much it hurt them and that it made her sad. But she also mentioned how thankful she was when they found help...and that healing was a very long process...but she was confident they would gradually reclaim what was taken away from them. She also shared her own story, and told me I didn't have to share what had happened to me if I didn't want to...but if I did want to, she'd be there to listen. I shared what I could and she was so compassionate towards me. We both cried. She didn't hang up on me until we were both ready to go to sleep...which was around 3 AM. After that, she looked out for me a lot just by monitoring how I seemed to be feeling each day. One day, (a really bad day for me, brimming with flashbacks) she gave me a hug, let me cry on her shoulder, and said, "I love you. I'm so glad you're here."
I think what has affected me the most in a positive way is knowing that it's okay to talk about flashbacks, memories, and other thoughts that sadden and frighten me...and knowing that my friends are always there to listen to me when I want to talk or would be willing to stay with me when I don't. Some of my friends seem to respect my wish for complete confidentiality a little better than others...as I have discovered that more of my friends know on some level that I was abused than I would like to know, but none of them seem to act like what happened is something for me to be ashamed of. And, of course, loving me and seeing me as "the same beautiful person...with even more courage and more strength than [they] initially knew..." also helps. And telling me how the abuse was not my fault--something I can't seem to hear enough--also helps tremendously.
I don't have plenty of friends I can talk to openly about what happened to me and what my journey to heal has been like, but, the few friends I can talk to have been wonderful about showing me that they care about me very very much. Without the support I've received, I would not be alive today.