I’m definitely not easy to live with, and I’m the first to say so.
Things happen in life that we have no control over, especially when we are young.
There are many variations on abuse, but the survivors all need love and all need people to be understanding about their situation. Loving someone who is a survivor of abuse can be a challenge. I’m going to give you a few guidelines.
They have had their worth, privacy, safety, innocence, and confidence stolen from them. Understand that their mind, heart, and emotions are fragile and will be for a long time.
Don’t push for details.
What happened to me happened sixteen years ago. Still, I haven’t told the whole story. If the victim wants to talk about it, let them talk, but if you aren’t law enforcement, don’t push for details. This can cause more harm than good.
Let them not be “over it.”
Abuse is a lingering thing. I still flinch from my husband sometimes even though he would never hurt me. The body and mind remember things. A touch, a sound, a scent, and everything rushes back.
If they need to vent, let them.
Sometimes a survivor needs to vent and cry it out. Let them. If they need to scream, yell, kick. Let them. They’ll be better for it. They have a right to be angry. They have been violated.
If they need to be alone and need space, understand.
THIS. This is the most important. The best healing for me has been to be alone, to write it out, to be in peace. If a survivor needs this, understand. Leave them be. Sometimes silence and room to breathe are all a person needs. Let them have distance for as long as they need.
For someone who has not lived it, parts of living as a survivor of abuse can be hard to fathom. If you have no idea, say so, and ask what you can do. If the survivor says nothing, believe them, and let it be.
I have so much respect for my husband. Taking me on is no easy endeavor. I’m probably the most insecure person I know. There have been so many lasting memories and triggers that I still find new ones to this day.
Belief is the biggest thing you can do to love a survivor in your life. In the midst of all the pain they feel, feeling like no one believes them is one of the worst things that can happen. Their circumstances are horrible enough without feeling like their situation doesn’t matter. Loving a survivor means supporting them, loving them, and believing them.