I recently found out my 15-year old male friend was raped when he was 6. What can I do to help him open up about this, and also to help him feel better about himself overall?
I want to acknowledge your friendship and supportive role that you appear to be for this friend. When someone experiences rape or any type of abuse, revealing it to someone can be a frightening task. The fact that he has opened himself up to you suggests that he feel safe enough to be vulnerable with you. Therapeutic support would be beneficial for him; however, this may be something he is not yet ready to go though. Continue to reaffirm your friendship by acknowledging the difficulty that he experienced in revealing this to you and continue to appreciate his trust in you. Unfortunately, in our society, a social stigma is present towards rape victims and this is something that can be very difficult to move away from. Many victims of rape experience shame, self-blame, doubt, and judgment. Therefore, bring forth the fact that the rape was not his fault, in any way. He did not deserve it, he is not to blame, and you believe him. To help him move forward, you could offer your presence during counseling if you feel comfortable doing so. I would also suggest letting him know that counseling would provide some release and closure of the past in a safe environment, in addition to achieving personal growth as well.