Healing after abuse is a long, arduous process. Thomas Fiffer shares a list of the challenges that survivors don’t share or rarely share. Fiffer’s article paints a clear picture of the daily struggles that survivors face after leaving an abusive relationship. Below is a short summary of the article.
- Leaving and staying away from someone you love/d
Many people don’t understand why abused victims return to their abuser. People fail to understand that despite the abuse, the victim still loved the abuser. In many instances the abuse didn’t happen all at once, and therefore there was a time when the abuser was kind and it was possible for the victim to love this person.
Walking away from this, is like walking away and staying away from love. The victim who has faced intense emotional trauma must remind themselves that it was not love and that is no easy task.
- Unlearning unhealthy coping strategies
Survivors had to change a lot of who they are to keep themselves and their children safe. They kept quiet when they had an opinion. They accepted being wrong even though they weren’t or apologised when they were the one who was supposed to be the recipient of an apology. They had to abide by rules that made no sense and ask for permission to do normal daily activities like going to a shop. They must now learn to find their voice again when it comes to relationships, something that they already mastered a long time ago. Due to the abuse, they now have to relearn normal adult skills.
Surviving is not only about staying alive during an abusive relationship, it’s also about forgiving yourself. Survivors blame themselves for the abuse and they must remind themselves every day that it was not their fault. They ask themselves what it is about them that made them a target of an abuser, or why they would allow someone to treat them poorly and why they would allow their children to see it. It is the emotional trauma of abuse that lasts a long time after the physical abuse has ended, and which torments the survivor.
- Dealing with a lot of ignorant views of abuse
It is very difficult to understand abuse, because no one can wrap their mind around how someone, a father and husband, who is supposed to protect and love his family, would torment them. Domestic violence disrupts the universal definition of family. People would rather believe there is something wrong with the victim then to try and understand that the person who is supposed to be the protector, can be the tormentor of the family. Therefore, survivors are often faced with insensitive comments from family and friends that can take the healing process 10 steps back. Survivors already struggle with second-guessing themselves, and insensitive statements from people they love can be damaging to their healing process.
Read the full article here.