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7 Ways Survivors of Relationship Abuse Love Differently

7 Ways Survivors of Relationship Abuse Love Differently

We all know dating involves a lot of uncertainty. Most people experience some insecurity when getting to know a potential partner. Figuring out how to read another person’s signs and signals is part of the dating experience. It is sometimes exhilarating, sometimes baffling.

What about when the person you’re dating has been in an abusive relationship? Unfortunately, partner abuse is all too common in our society. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that each minute 20 people experience physical abuse from an intimate partner in the United States. The after effects of relationship abuse are long-lasting, and can make the ups and downs of love even rockier.

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Here are 7 ways a person who has experienced relationship trauma may love differently.

1. We Can Have Low Self-Confidence.

No matter the type of abuse, the abused person suffers damage to their self-esteem. Our abusers were critical of us, and undermined our self-confidence. Sometimes we tell ourselves what our abusers told us, like “you’re no good”, or “how could anyone love you”, or “I hit you because you deserve it.” We need time to get over the damage to our self-esteem. You can help by understanding that sometimes when we are depressed it can be because we are hearing these thoughts. If you help us talk them through it helps, because we know you don’t see us like that.

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2. We Are Sometimes Mistrustful of Kind Gestures.

Sometimes abusers shower their partners with gifts and compliments, as a way of pulling them in quickly. Then, when the partner is hooked, the abuse begins. If you give us a gift or a compliment early on, sometimes we wonder if you are like our abuser. We can’t help it, we’re just afraid. However, behind our fear, we are really grateful for your gift. It’s okay to ask us what is wrong. Sometimes we just have a hard time knowing why we react like we do, and sorting out our feelings.

3. We Sometimes Startle Easily, or Flinch, or Jump at Loud Sounds.

Partner abuse involves physical, emotional, or verbal abuse. We remember the abuse, so loud sounds, certain physical movements, and other things can remind us of the abuse. We can seem to freak out and get jittery or withdraw. We can’t help it, our bodies and minds are remembering the abuse.

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4. We Can Find it Difficult at First in the Bedroom.

Getting close to someone physically means being extra-vulnerable. The last time we were vulnerable, we got hurt. We want to love and trust again, but we’re afraid. Please be patient; we’re trying and want you to understand it’s not you, it’s our past.

5. We Might Try to Sabotage the Relationship.

At times, the fear of getting close enough to be hurt again can make us try to push you away. We might lash  out in anger, withdraw, or be critical. Sometimes we aren’t even aware before we do it. It’s just our fear that we will get hurt again. Sometimes when you are getting really close to us we feel most scared and confused. Please understand it’s not you. We’re actually trying to open up and connect but sometimes the fear overtakes us.

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6. We Might Get Attached Too Fast.

Sometimes people who’ve experienced partner abuse jump into new relationships, hungry for the love and affirmation they didn’t find with the abusive partner. We might push to spend all of our time together, maybe move in together, take vacations together, meet family, all on a schedule that might feel too fast for you. We want a relationship with a good person, and we aren’t quite sure of the rules. Sometimes we don’t want to be alone with the sadness we feel, and being with a caring person feels so comforting. You can help by telling us we are going too fast, and need to slow down. We want to do things the right way. Remember, we are still learning.

7. We Might Not Feel Worthy of a Loving Relationship.

Our abuser left us feeling like we aren’t good enough for a healthy and loving relationship. We are working hard to overcome that damage, harder than you might see just looking at us from the outside. Like everyone else, we want connection, intimacy, and a mutually respectful relationship. It takes courage to move on from an abusive relationship, and to open our hearts again. Understand that we still are working on feeling like we are deserving and lovable. Your compassion goes a long way in helping us heal.

We still carry some of the scars of abuse leftover from the bad relationship. However, we have a lot to offer. We have courage, compassion, and strength gained from moving on and coping with the experience of abuse. We’re working hard on our recovery. A partner with patience and compassion will see us for the treasures we really are.

Featured photo credit: Elenakirey | Dreamstime.com – Sad Woman Photo via dreamstime.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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