You may have just been told by your partner that he or she was sexually abused in childhood. You may have been suspecting this for a while. The world, as you know it, is reeling, and worse, you may know, and even like, the perpetrator, if it was a family member.
Let her know that you believe and love her, and that nothing has changed between the two of you. Validate the damage that the abuse has left on your partner. Do not minimise the abuse, and/or take the side of the abuser. Your partner has grown up in an environment of mistrust, particularly if the abuser was a beloved relative or family friend. If you minimise the experience, your partner’s fears will be strengthened. Do not push for details, especially the sexual ones. Even if your partner had responded sexually and/or did not protest, be clear that it is still never the child’s fault. It is the responsibility of the adult not to abuse a child.
This sounds simple but in your rush to demonstrate sympathy, you may unwittingly drown out your partner’s voice. Validate her anger, fear and pain. Do not interrupt with your own feelings. If the abuser was a member of her family, she may have mixed feelings about the abuse and may blame herself. Let your partner know that you are there for her, and that you are open to listening to anything that she has to say, no matter how difficult or painful.