I'm seeking a word the opposite end of the conversation to a confidante. Somewhat like the opposite end of the conversation to a confessor and indeed any word used in this religious context as the counterpart to a confessor might be a good figurative fit.
I am describing the solace that a hurting human being can find in having someone sincerely listen to the story of their distress, without judgement, moralizing or "advice". Just finding someone who will empathize with them sincerely.
All the usual words I can think of (like "supplicant", "pleader", "petitioner", ....) are in roughly the right neighborhood, but imply someone who seeks a particular goal or someone perhaps seeking gain.
I want a word that conveys the vulnerability of a pleader in this case. Someone who just needs to connect sincerely with someone else, without material gain.
For context: i am writing about trauma someone like a cancer patient or a parent of a child with a profound disability sometimes experiences when they cannot find someone who will simply sincerely listen without needing to judge or solve the problem, the latter being a behavior that i feel many people unconsciously slip into to soothe their own awkwardness with the situation of the person seeking comfort. Here is my sentence in progress:
"They .. sometimes seem to have little concept of the solace that a hurting human being can find in having someone else listen to and quietly acknowledge that person’s story, however awkward a listener might find it, without judgement, dogmata, moralizing or 'helpful advice' ('I was only trying to help!!!') that many use to soothe their own discomfort at the imperfect and awkward situation of their interlocutor."
I'm looking to replace "interlocutor" (which i so hate but it's all i can come up with) in this sentence.