Finding love after abuse

2018-02-14 06:00

MANY people ask me if the idea of finding honest and trusting love after being in an abusive relationship is possible. The answer is simple, yes! However the process of getting to the point of openness and trust is a complex, necessary journey of time, patience, healing and self-love.

Often one is left cynical about love — with elements of disdain towards the fairy tales we grew up with. Life can be consumed with obsessive thoughts and memories of the abuser and their actions, so that the possibility of opening up to true love is thwarted by the survivor. This is by no means intentional as the complexities around experiencing abuse are so widespread that one often does not realise the abuse has overtaken the real person hidden under the trauma.

The trauma covers many different elements of the self, from daily financial survival to lack of self-esteem and disassociation from the incidents that occurred. Often acknowledging that abuse indeed occurred can be difficult.

Be aware that post-traumatic stress maybe evident although not known to the survivor. These symptoms may only occur years later even in a new relationship that is safe and it may be shocking and extreme when it does surface. This will be a test to the strength of the new relationship as to whether or not it is real and filled with compassion.

Moving forward after abuse is a process where healing can take place. It may be few months or a few years so it is not to be rushed. Learning to love one’s self again is a vital step to moving forward. Be kind to yourself — this is not a selfish act but an act of self-care. Time and intensive therapy can heal even the most wounded people.

When the time is right, the right person will appear, even though it may not be a long-term committed partnership, it is a step in the right direction.

Day by day the heart will open itself up again to feeling emotions that were compartmentalised and locked away. Be open about the effects of what happened although this is not to define the person you are.

Recently, I myself have been placed in one of the worst periods of post-traumatic stress. Having opened up slowly in a safe relationship, the effects of abuse began to surface — even 10 years later. Did this make a difference to the relationship, the answer is yes in a positive way.

Talking has become more open and mutual respect strengthened. Embarrassment is not there, only support and kindness.

Who knows what will happen from here, other than a big hurdle has been overcome and the light at the end of the tunnel is nearing.

The message is to never give up hope even in the darkest times. Each day is positive progress towards a renewed, confident self, knowing that things are going to be okay in the end.

The Julie Muir Vivier Anti-Abuse Trust is a registered non-profit organisation that assists victims and survivors of domestic violence.

The Trust can be contacted at ceojmvtrust@gmail.com or 060 898 5867.

— JULIE MUIR VIVIER
Anti-Abuse Trust.

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