Eight Opportunities

Backup_of_RW 101 coverWhat I had to ask myself one day, is am I ready to deal with the past?  Am I safely far away enough from the abuse that it is safe to face the trauma?

You may remember things that you don’t want to recall and be triggered.  That’s a part of the process and why it’s so crucial that before you get started, make sure you have support systems in place.

Counseling is beneficial in so many ways.  The best learning skills can be found in therapy sessions, women’s resource groups, churches and even in anonymous groups such as Al-Anon.
Friends are well-meaning and a good shoulder, but do take care about taking advice, for if they’ve never walked an inch in your shoes, their advice given may or may not be damaging.

“Get over it.”  “Forget about it.”  That is double-edged advice that haunts those that have been traumatized.  We want to get over it, we want to forget it, and we try very hard to.
Sometimes leaning on friends causes them to distance themselves.  They either can’t bear the burden of what you’ve endured or they simply aren’t connected with you in that way to hear all of those closeted skeletons.
My circle of friends is exclusively small with a lifetime membership.  My true friends know my triggers, know the rules, accept and love me as I am- and I do the same for them.  True friends tend to be discovered in the most unlikely places under the most bizarre of circumstances.
Where I found the most beneficial support was from online support forums.  I was allowed freedom to process in my own private way, without feeling overwhelmed.  As my abuser was suffering from anxiety and alcohol abuse at the time I was escaping, I subscribed to support groups for families of alcoholics and women’s abuse groups online.  It was helpful to learn that I was not alone, and that it wasn’t my fault.

In support groups you have a great chance to find comfort and companionship as you all share a common thread.  You may find though that over time, people may come and go, for each trauma is different and victims heal at their own pace from victim to survivor to thriver.  There is nothing wrong with that, and there is no right or wrong way to heal.

Many times the abuse stems from some type of addictive issue on the abuser’s end, such as a chemical addiction.  Sometimes abuse stems from the abuser’s feelings of insecurity and fears.  Some abusers are disassociated (detached from their and others feelings) and yet other abusers run purely off of raw emotions while you become disassociated as a result of the abuse.  Some abusers reenact what traumatized them.  Abuse is a continuous cycle.  All it takes is one to break the chain.

Abusers play games, speak in riddles, and make you feel like you’re losing your mind- and all the while, do their best to make you completely dependent upon them.  Their goal is power and control.  Abusive types are unhealthy individuals in need of professional help.

It’s unfortunate and frightening that many victims of domestic violence stay home in an effort to help the one abusing them, hopeful that they could fix the problem- when truly, the problem is not theirs- while their life is in a repetitious pattern of danger.  The general pattern for a woman to return to an abusive relationship is eight times before the final escape.

Eight times.

Eight opportunities to be harmed- eight opportunities to be broken physically, spiritually, emotionally- eight opportunities to die.


5 thoughts on “Eight Opportunities

  1. I had to take a few minutes there before replying, like most people I shy away from the truth of abuse. But I’ve seen plenty of it. Wives, husbands, children, grand-parents, strangers – almost every category of person-relationship. The cycle of despair and hopelessness.

    A lot of the people who work for me come from areas of the world where female abuse is systemised and even encouraged by the authorities, community and religious leaders (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, etc). So I do have a good idea of how it works and its effects on people.

    But as you say – if you haven’t walked an inch in the shoes of a person who has been abused you do not have the frame of reference to discuss it in any meaningful way. You haven’t done the time, you haven’t put in the hours. You don’t have the right to do anything but listen and try to grasp the enormity of the person’s situation.

    When I had cancer I was treated in the Middle East where treatment is well done and professional but there are no help-groups. When I tried to discuss what was happening the people around me either didn’t want to discuss it (‘don’t worry you’ll be OK’) or talked rubbish (‘my granny had cancer and lived till she was 103’) or gave useless advice (‘tough it out, fight it’).
    I needed to talk to people who were in, or had lived through, the same situation as I was in – I was dying, quite literally. I wanted to discuss my feelings with others who had faced it to find out how they had coped. I needed someone who had been in the trenches, someone who had stared death in the face while throwing up every ten minutes.

    Your words on support groups is so spot on and its the advice of someone who has returned home from the front line.

    Bravery takes many forms. You have the heart of a mother and they are the strongest hearts in the world.

    Hearts of Courage.

    Welcome back.

    • Bless you, James. It’s good to be back.

      I would love more than anything to be the woman I was before. Her heart was open and trusting, her mind objectively calm. She drew beautifully, sang, was strong and free, accepting everyone as they are. I miss her. I miss her love and spontaneity. I don’t know if it’s possible to be who I was, but she has been my focus, my goal.

      I think though, that who I am, and who I was, will have to coexist.
      Trauma alters the brain, permanently. Our thinking patterns will be different, the memories will always exist somewhere, and the triggers will always exist to awaken the memories. Coping skills will help me relearn how to be who I was, and at the core of me, she will be there- because I feel she is there, buried very deeply.

      I’m so glad you felt comfortable to share with me. Cancer is a trauma on many levels, and terrifying. Ultimately, you are dealing with the same issues as an abuse survivor, suffering the same- because it is about life or death and your body, mind and spirit is being fatigued and devoured as you try to escape it.
      A cancer survivor can feel re-victimized if any test result comes back even slightly abnormal, or if someone close to them dies of cancer. They might have panic attacks, fears of trying to live a normal life, fears of getting even the sniffles for fear it will return to finish them off. It is a constant reminder of how close they were to losing the fight.

      Hearts of Courage for us both.

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