Ask Sam letter


To Sam

My girlfriend has ptsd

hey sam. my girlfriend was sexually assaulted and struggles with ptsd. how do i help her. thanks. ​

Ask Sam


Hi there,

PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder and it’s a condition someone might have if they have been through a very difficult experience. It can be hard to see someone we care about when they’re struggling to cope. We naturally want to help, but it's not always obvious what’s the best thing to do. There isn't any one single answer but there’re a few pieces of advice I can give that might help.

Firstly, it's important not to put too much pressure on the person you want to help. When someone’s gone through a traumatic experience, one natural response is to try and shut out what happened. If you pressure that person to talk when they aren’t  ready, it might bring up a memory that they don't want to have. The best thing to do is make yourself available to them for whatever they need. If they know you’re there for them, it means they can open up in their own time.

You should also remind yourself that what you can do to help is limited. PTSD is a complex mental health problem and it's likely your girlfriend might need professional help. Recognising this is an important step to take because it takes a lot of pressure off you. Whilst you can't be her therapist, you can be her boyfriend and help her cope with life whilst she has PTSD. Understanding that difference is important for both of you.

To get some professional help your girlfriend can talk to her GP or to someone like Rape Crisis. Once she’s ready to get that professional help, you can help by supporting her to take those difficult steps. In the meantime, being there as someone who can give her some of her normal life back by doing everyday things is a valuable way to support her.

I hope this has helped, but if you or your girlfriend need to talk then Childline’s counsellors are here for you.

Take care.

Need help straight away?

You can talk privately to a counsellor online or call 0800 1111 for free.

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