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One of the courageous people I’ve met are those who survived, let go and recover from an abusive relationship. Whether emotional, physical,verbal or financial abuse, no one deserves to go through the trauma of abuse. It changes everything. It changes how they see things.
An abuse survivor get wound up with triggers and flashbacks that haunt them after an emotional abuse. A survivor’s mind becomes hypervigilant just like the survival instinct between a prey and its predator. (Have you seen familiar scenes from NatGeoWild?). The survivor of an abuse is always on guard to keep themeselves away from people that might hurt them. Also, they are sensitive to things they do or say that might upset people around them.
I got brave enough to be with someone again and you know I told him about my past when I got pretty comfortable with him. Contrarily, I didn’t let him know all of my past because I wanted a pity-plea from him. I wanted the companionship and to grow and continue my healing process. The relationship felt so genuine. I trusted him and I wanted him to have a deep understanding of me.
Sometimes, he says stuff that give me huge triggers like ‘you’re not even that beautiful’, that alone gives me flashbacks of how I was constantly bullied in high school. I get this rising panic that makes me become defensive and to prove what I ought not to prove even after always telling myself that I was enough. How vulnerable!
Sometimes, he says more triggering stuff and I go boom, stop talking to him for days because I feel a connection to my past and my mind immediately jumped to all of the times my abuser mocked me for my struggles. During these times, I feel like he was delibrately haunting me with all of those triggers because he knew my weakness and my past.
One of the statement that made me go ballistic was when we were having an argument over the phone and he be like ‘I won’t beat you but I’ll do something worse’. That’s coming from someone who I shared how my ex physically abused me and he was saying this. I couldn’t even imagine if it was unintentional because that was a proof that he knew exactly what he was saying and doing. Afterwards, he blurted out that I was abnormal and I needed healing and he regrets getting attached with someone like me and that I was selfish. Before then, whenever I try to talk to him about how what he said hurt me, he’d tell me I was making things up to justify the pain I feel and it was all in my head. He typically gaslights me to make me doubt my sanity.
An abuse survivor’s pain is real. My pain was real. He doesn’t understand my struggles neither does he understand my fear. The times he made me feel like I was delusional and insisted that what was happening was all in my head, it was all a lie. It was happening right in front of our eyes and I was the only one who could recognise it. I always want to rationalize with his behaviour by agreeing to the never-seem-hurtful statements he makes but it’s then I realise I would be smack in the middle of a very toxic pattern.
I’m still trying to adjust to life without someone terrible in it. I’m still on a journey of lifetime healing, figuring out what I need to be happy, healthy and safe in an intinate relationship. It’s okay. They are also trying to figure out what this thing called life is too. We are all at different phases of our lives and a better understanding of your partner is all you need to adjust your lenses.
Before diving into the how to date an abuse survivor, I want us to note that regardless of your race, age, religion, sexual orientation, sexual identity, anyone can be a victim of abuse. You just have to calm down and understand them.
1. Stop criticizing and don’t be a judge of their character. Abuse survivors are insecure although they may act tough but they are fragile.
2. Stop acting like an abuse survivor is a goddamn project or you need to fix them or be their hero. Just live the present moment with them and be caring.
3. Stop assuming their behaviours or their sensitivity towards something that makes them uncomfortable. Ask them questions and equally listen to them.
4. Always respect their boundaries. There are behaviours they won’t accept, it’s okay to relearn that.
5. You need to earn their trust.
6. Finally, you need to be thoughtful, respectful and kind.
If all these sound like a lot of responsibility – well, yes it is! At the end of the day, dating is always a lot of responsibility. Whether you’re a survivor yourself or you are in love with someone who is, we all have the amazing strength to learn from our past and live and grow towards a healthier future.
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