Shadows of hand-holding

Sharing – Supporting Your New Partner if They Are A Survivor

The article is about domestic abuse survivors, but as a child abuse survivor, I think much of the advice applies.

“For abuse survivors, it may be very difficult to feel “normal” even after an abusive relationship has ended, as their bodies and minds may continue to relive their past experiences despite new circumstances. Being mindful of this can help you be sensitive to their past trauma while understanding that the trauma is not about or because of you.”

Understanding this is one of the hardest things about being in a relationship, of any kind, with an abuse survivor. As a sexual abuse survivor, it has been paramount in my romantic relationships to talk openly about my experience and what things can be very difficult for me. These discussions are important because there can be things that seem very simple and routine to you that your partner does not see the same way. (For example, I don’t like to be touched until I can see the person touching me and know they are someone safe. Approaching me from behind and touching me before I’ve had a chance to “see” who I am with can be very startling to me.)

I like to think that survivors are worth the effort, and my wife has confirmed that at least our relationship is worth it. It requires honesty and openness that may be new to survivors, but it’s the only way forward.

The dynamics of a non-romantic friendship might be different, but my best friends are people who know and respect my boundaries. Usually, once I explain to them, they understand and are willing to work with me—those who aren’t don’t remain friends very long.

Importantly, I have also to be understanding of them and their boundaries. Everyone deserves that respect in a relationship.

So, please read the link below and practice being honest about boundaries in your relationships. They will be better off when you put in that effort.

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