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This interactive kit includes animations, activities, and resources to help you explore why you may find learning hard, and discover ways to help yourself learn.

Helping Yourself Learn

What to Tell Others

If you have experienced violence, you may feel like you have a secret that is somehow ugly, or poisonous, or dangerous. But if someone is hurting you, or did in the past, it is their shame, not yours. It wasn’t your fault; it isn’t your fault—no matter what the situation.

When the time comes that you want to get this secret out (and any time you feel ready is the right time for you), you are going to make a lot of important choices about who to tell, how many people to tell, when, and how much… and how to tell them.

The reasons for sharing have to be yours, to benefit you and your learning. For example, you may be finding that as you’re bringing your experiences of violence up to the foreground to deal with them, you are “spacing out” in some of your daily activities (feeling blank, tired, disconnected, forgetting you’re doing/saying, and so on). It may benefit your learning to let your teachers know about your situation so that they don’t think you are just not paying attention.

At the same time, you don’t “owe it to” anyone to tell them anything about your life, ever. Your truth is YOURS. So you get to choose who to trust. If you don’t feel safe with a certain person (a teacher, a tutor, a friend, anyone) then listen to that feeling and take it seriously.

If you do want to tell your story to someone, keep yourself safe by asking yourself why you want to tell this person. Will it help you to tell them? How? And what do you want from them? If it’s important to you that they keep it to themselves, do you think they will? Remember there are some things that all people have a legal obligation to report to the police or social services, like if they think you are in immediate or serious danger, or if there are any children in danger. Some people, in some positions/places also have a duty (like on the contract they signed when they got their job) to share serious information with their bosses, colleagues or other authorities. Then there are other things that many people will feel they just can’t keep to themselves.

Remember also that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Maybe you want to let someone know that you are coping with difficult issues these days, without going into all the details. You might just say “Some tough stuff has happened to me,” and leave it at that at first, while you check out their initial reaction, and see how you feel about telling them that much. Later you may choose to add more detail—or not.

As time goes on, notice if you are wanting to tell people all the time, if you are sharing your stories of violence either continually or in great detail with tonnes of people. It may be that it’s a relief to let it out, after keeping silence for so long, but if you are telling everyone you meet right away, you might not be keeping yourself safe. You may not be setting and respecting boundaries for yourself. Not everyone is the right person; not every time is the right time. If you do find yourself in this situation, find a trusted friend to talk through why you’re doing it.

When you want to tell a friend about your experience of violence, think about whether the friendship is intimate or distant. Have the two of you shared personal information before now? How have you seen this person react in heavy situations before?

If you tell someone who is not prepared to listen, they may freak out, and their reaction might confuse you or you might feel betrayed, or you might feel more ashamed. I know when I have shared something heavy but the person couldn’t handle it, they have used words like “inappropriate” and this has made ME feel inappropriate. This is maybe the most vulnerable you have ever been in your life, so be tender with yourself.

Heather Lash

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