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Adult survivors of abuse

Old 10-16-2017, 04:34 AM
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Adult survivors of abuse

Psychological, emotional and spiritual abuse are every bit as painful as other types of abuse.

Healing is possible and happens every day.

The following is reposted from Self Care Haven:


Cognitive-dissonance is just one of many biases that work in our everyday lives. We don’t like to believe that we may be wrong, so we may limit our intake of new information or thinking about things in ways that don’t fit within our pre-existing beliefs. Psychologists call this “confirmation bias.”

Like everything else we're learning about dealing with trauma, try to keep an open mimd.



Ten Life-Changing Truths to Embrace on the Healing Journey

1. It was not your fault. You are enough.

Accepting that the pathology of another person and the abuse he or she inflicted upon you is not under your control can be quite challenging when you’ve been told otherwise, by the abuser, the public and even by those close to you who don’t know any better.

2. Your love cannot inspire the abuser to change. There was nothing you could have done differently to change the abuser. Repeat this to yourself. Nothing. Abusers have a distorted perspective of the world and their interactions with people are intrinsically disordered. Giving more love and subjugating yourself to the abuser out of fear and out of the hope that he or she would change would’ve only enabled the abuser’s power. You did the right thing (or you will) by stepping away and no longer allowing someone to treat you in such an inhumane manner.

3. Healthy relationships are your birthright and you can achieve them. It is your right to have a healthy, safe, and respectful relationship. It is your right to be free from bodily harm and psychological abuse. It is your right to pursue people who are worthy of your time and energy. Never settle for less than someone who respects you and is considerate towards you. Every human being has this right and you do too. If you are someone who has the ability to respect others and are capable of empathy, you are not any less deserving than anyone else of a relationship that makes you happy.

4. You are not forever damaged by this, even if you feel like you are. Healing and recovery is a challenging process, but it is not an impossible one. You may suffer for a long time from intrusive thoughts, flashbacks and other symptoms as a result of the abuse. You may even enter other unhealthy relationships or reenter the same one. Still, you are not “damaged goods.” You are not forever scarred, although there are scars that may still remain. You are a healer, a warrior, a survivor. You do have choices and agency. You can apply No Contact with your ex-partner, seek counseling, create a stronger support network, engage in better self-care, and you can have better relationships in the future. All hope is not lost.

5. You don’t have to justify to anyone the reasons you didn’t leave right away. The fear, isolation and manipulation that the abuser imposed upon us is legitimate and valid. Studies have proven that trauma can produce changes the brain and can also manifest in PTSD or acute stress disorder. Stockholm syndrome is a syndrome that tethers survivors of trauma and abuse to their abusers in order to survive. Trauma bonds, which are bonds that are formed with another person during intense emotional experiences, can leave us paradoxically seeking support from the source of the abuse.

The connection we have to the abuser is like an addiction to the vicious cycle of hot and cold, of sweet talk and apologies, of wounds and harsh words. Our sense of learned helplessness, a feeling that we are unable to escape the situation, is potent in an abusive situation. So is our cognitive dissonance about who the abuser truly is. Due to the shame we feel about the abuse, we may withdraw from our support network altogether or be forced by our abuser to not interact with others.

This can all interfere with our motivation and means to leave the relationship. Therefore, you never have to justify to anyone why you did not leave right away or blame yourself for not doing so. Someone else’s invalidation should not take away your experience of fear, confusion, shame, numbing and hypervigilance that occurred when and after the abuse took place.
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Old 10-16-2017, 04:36 AM
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6. Forgiveness of the abuser is a personal choice, not a necessity. Some may tell you that you have to forgive the abuser to move on. Truly, that is a personal choice and not a necessity. Trauma therapists such as Antastasia Pollock warn against pressuring a survivor to forgive, especially prematurely, because it can feel like being re-violated. In, “Why I Don’t Use the Word ‘Forgiveness’ in Trauma Therapy,” Pollock suggests using the word ‘unburdening,’ instead, to accurately describe the gradual letting go of feelings of resentment without forcing her clients to feel anything other than what they truly feel.

As trauma therapist and author of the book, Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, Pete Walker, also notes:

“There has been a lot of shaming, dangerous and inaccurate “guidance” put out about forgiveness in the last few years, in both the recovery community and in transpersonal circles. Many survivors of dysfunctional families have been injured by the simplistic, black and white advice that decrees that they must embrace a position of being totally and permanently forgiving in order to recover. Unfortunately, those who have taken the advice to forgive abuses that they have not fully grieved, abuses that are still occurring, and/or abuses so heinous they should and could never be forgiven, often find themselves getting nowhere in their recovery process. In fact, the possibility of attaining real feelings of forgiveness is usually lost when there is a premature, cognitive decision to forgive. This is because premature forgiving intentions mimic the defenses of denial and repression. They keep unprocessed feelings of anger and hurt about childhood unfairnesses out of awareness.” – Trauma Therapist Pete Walker, Forgiveness: Begins With The Self

It is not that forgiveness is not healing – some survivors will indeed find it healing – but only if they come to that path out of their own free will rather than pressures from society. Prematurely forcing yourself to forgive before you are willing or ready can actually lead to increased stress and trauma because you have not done the inner work of grieving and honoring the authentic outrage that can come up after the abuse.
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Old 10-16-2017, 04:41 AM
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7. Compassion towards yourself is necessary to move forward. Self-forgiveness is a different matter. Although you did nothing wrong (anyone can be the victim of abuse), many survivors struggle with self-blame after the ending of an abusive relationship. Even though you don’t have anything technically to ‘forgive’ yourself for (the abuse was the abuser’s fault, not yours), survivors may judge themselves for not leaving sooner or looking out for their best interests during the relationship. It is encouraged to show compassion towards yourself and be gentle with yourself during times of negative self-talk and self-judgment. These are all things survivors tend to struggle with in the aftermath of an abusive relationship and it can take a while to get to this point.

Remember: You didn’t know what you know now about how the abuser would never change. Even if you had, you were in a situation where many psychological factors made it difficult to leave.

8. You are not the crazy one. During the abusive relationship, you were gaslighted and told that you were the pathological one, that your version of events was untrue, that your feelings were invalid, that you were too sensitive when you reacted to his or her mistreatment of you. You may have even endured a vicious smear campaign in which the charming abuser told everyone else you were “losing it.”

Losing it actually meant that you were tired of being kicked around, tired of being cursed at and debased. Losing it actually meant that you were finally starting to stand up for yourself. The abuser saw that you were recognizing the abuse and wanted to keep you in your place by treating you to cold silence, harsh words, and condescending rumor mongering.

It’s time to get back to reality: you were not the unstable one. The unstable one was the person who was constantly belittling you, controlling your every move, subjecting you to angry outbursts, and using you as an emotional (and even physical) punching bag.

9. You deserve better. No matter what the abuser told you about yourself, there are people out there in healthy relationships. These people are cherished, respected and appreciated on a consistent basis. There is trust in the relationship, not toxic triangulation. There are genuine apologies for mistakes, not hoovering for attention or quick reconciliation.

10. It may have seemed this relationship was like a “waste of time” but in changing your perspective, it can also be an incredible learning experience. You now have the agency to create stronger boundaries and learn more about your values as a result of this experience. As a survivor, you’ve seen the dark side of humanity and what people are capable of. You’ve recognized the value of using your time wisely after you’ve exhausted it with someone unworthy. With this newfound knowledge, you are no longer naive to the fact that there are emotional predators out there. Most importantly, you can share your story to help and empower other survivors.
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Old 10-16-2017, 08:27 AM
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Thank you so much for posting this today! You have no idea how much I needed it at this very moment.

Last night, when picking up my child from my STBXAH, he was 15 minutes late to come down from the apartment, then I was again called a c*nt because I didn't want the left over food he shoved in our child's bag. I simply said, "no thank you." He then went on to say "this is all your fault," while carrying our child back behind the locked door so he could "say goodbye."

I know he is upset, we all are. I'm his emotional punching bag to deflect everything to. He later texted me some nonsense about "if you ever come pick up (insert child's name) with that attitude again, stay in the car." It's like he created a different story in his mind and now it's MY fault....ITS INFURIATING!

Anyway, I appreciate this post. I needed it right now. Thank you!
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Old 10-21-2017, 12:47 AM
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. It was not your fault. You are enough.

Sitting with this one.... head and heart are both on board with it, yet somewhere there's an echo from the abuse that I haven't come to terms with. This echo wants to keep abusing me and I am SICK of it.

The abuse was not my fault. I am enough.

The abuse was not my fault. I am enough.

The abuse was not my fault. I am enough.

This is the echo I want to feel at all times.
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Old 10-21-2017, 06:25 AM
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Thank you, I am going to print this out.
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Old 10-26-2017, 12:18 PM
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. You deserve better. No matter what the abuser told you about yourself, there are people out there in healthy relationships. These people are cherished, respected and appreciated on a consistent basis. There is trust in the relationship, not toxic triangulation. There are genuine apologies for mistakes, not hoovering for attention or quick reconciliation.

I deserve better.

Pure and simple.

I deserve healthy relationships.

I deserve a life full of joy.
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Old 10-26-2017, 10:36 PM
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Originally Posted by keepingthefaith View Post
. You deserve better. No matter what the abuser told you about yourself, there are people out there in healthy relationships. These people are cherished, respected and appreciated on a consistent basis. There is trust in the relationship, not toxic triangulation. There are genuine apologies for mistakes, not hoovering for attention or quick reconciliation.

I deserve better.

Pure and simple.

I deserve healthy relationships.

I deserve a life full of joy.
We indeed do deserve better.
Hugs to you!
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Old 10-27-2017, 05:39 AM
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@keepingthefaith this is amazing, thanks for the post. Sticky-worthy!
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Old 10-27-2017, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by RomanticTuring View Post
Sticky-worthy!
Done stickied under "Classic Reading"

Mike
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Old 12-08-2017, 01:05 PM
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Bump.
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Old 12-09-2017, 02:56 PM
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For me forgiveness isn't saying it's ok what you did/said. It's letting go of the person, letting the experience go. A big part of forgiveness is acceptance that some people are deeply disturbed and I prayer I use: "If he had known better he would have done better. But since he didn't know better he couldn't do better. I bless and release him to his highest good".
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Old 12-09-2017, 05:37 PM
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In my experience, and through much therapy, I'm finding that some of my abusers DID know better and CHOSE very deliberately to abuse me. These were conscious, ongoing decisions.

There is not a healthy place for me, for now, to go anywhere near the concept of forgiveness. I was programmed to forgive anything and everything.

Learning new thought processes require I instead learn to face this with HEALTHY anger, HEALTHY protection of me... of the me in this day, and also my inner child. For her (me), it is necessary for me to not forgive in any way, shape or form until I have a much more thorough recovery and awareness of the whole situation.

It's a journey. One day at a time. And so important for me to voice these things to reinforce the healing process I'm going through.
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