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Part of: Telling someone about what happened

Choosing the right time

If we have decided that we want to share, we may wonder when is the right time to speak with someone. If possible, it’s important to try and make sure we are in the right state of mind before opening up. Here are a few indicators that might help us to determine how we are feeling and if we feel prepared to share our story:

  • Comfortable

  • Confident

  • Safe

  • A little apprehensive/nervous, but not scared

  • Unthreatened

If we identify with most of these feelings, then we might be ready to talk with someone. However, if we don’t feel safe talking to someone, or feel that it would be re-traumatising to talk about our experience, then we might need more time before sharing our story. Remember, whatever our feelings, we might just not be ready yet, and that’s totally fine.

Sometimes these conversations can come up organically. Depending on the other person, the conversation may flow naturally into talking about our experiences, even if we don’t feel 100% ready. We should use our best judgement and not worry about over-analysing the situation.

On the other hand, there may also be occasions where we feel pressured into revealing information when we aren’t ready, or to someone you aren’t comfortable talking to. Remember that we do not owe anyone our story, and it’s perfectly valid to deflect and come back to the conversation if and when we feel better prepared. An example of how to do this could be: ‘This is something that I’m not comfortable discussing at the moment, can we please talk about something else?’.

If we think it might be the right time but aren’t completely sure, then perhaps try speaking a little bit on the subject to gauge the other person’s response. If they respond poorly or we find talking about the topic too tough, we can step away from the subject and try again at another time.

Choosing the time to share is very personal and it can take weeks, months or years to find a time that you feel comfortable with. It’s important to remember that it is our story to tell, whenever we like, to whomever we feel comfortable with. There is no timeline you have to stick to when choosing when or how to tell someone what happened

Even though we want to have control and have a choice over when we talk about our personal experiences, unfortunately we are sometimes put in situations when we do have to share when we would rather not. This may happen in cases of mandatory reporting, such as in a school setting, religious institution, or workplace. This can feel very traumatic and uncomfortable, especially if we’re not ready to discuss what happened or we don’t want to talk to the person asking us questions. We are here to help you deal with those conversations and will offer some advice on this in the rest of these notes.