If you have experienced abuse in your life, whether it be physical, sexual, emotional/verbal, and neglect/abandonment, I want you to know that you can heal, you can move forward and there is hope. In this blog I want to talk about specific ways to deal with the abuse you may have experienced.
If you have been abused, you may feel your heart and soul have been put in a cage, and you feel like you will never be normal again. The truth is, there is always reason to believe you will begin to heal and learn how to live a healthy life again.
Here are some things you can do to move on after abuse
- Find someone to talk to about what’s going on. I say this a lot, but it’s so important I can’t say it enough. Try your best to explain what is happening to someone you trust, like a pastor, a counselor at school, a doctor, a therapist, or perhaps even your best friend. Celeste commented to me on how she’s survived her abusive home life: The most important thing you can do is let out your feelings, before you explode and do something irrational like commit suicide or cut, which I did a lot of. If you keep the hate inside, it only multiplies by 10 and leads to disaster.
- Take whatever steps are necessary to protect yourself from serious abuse. It’s vitally important for me to mention that if you are living in an abusive situation, get out! It’s not enough just to run away from these destructive authority figures. You must choose to run to a safe place or a person who can protect, counsel and help you. Our partner at National Safe Place can help you find a safe place near you.
- Let go of any guilt feelings. It’s not your fault you have been abused. And it’s never OK for someone to abuse you. You should never blame yourself, or bog yourself down with unnecessary guilt. Some victims of sexual abuse actually feel guilty about experiencing pleasure during what happened. This is a normal physical reaction. It doesn’t make the abuse right or acceptable. If you wish you hadn’t done some of the things you’ve done in the past, you need to forgive yourself. Don’t get stuck feeling guilty and miserable for past mistakes that you didn’t choose or that were forced upon you.
- Think positively about yourself and your life. While your abuser may have physical control over you, he/she does not have to control your emotions. You still have the ability to be in charge of how you feel about yourself. Begin to put positive thoughts into your mind about yourself. Flush out the lies you’ve been told and replace them with the truth. For example, you might want to repeat to yourself, “I am a beautiful person, I am a kind person, I am loved, I have a bright future, every day and in every way my life is getting better.” Put these thoughts on cards and go over them again and again. Don’t try to cover over your pain with destructive behaviors like smoking, drinking, swearing, sex or fighting. Instead, at times, learn to be alone or even spend time near water, like a lake or ocean. This will give you a sense of peace and inner-strength.Justin commented about how he survived in a painful, abusive home situation: Don’t let the negativity of one person make you jaded and cynical toward life itself. There is so much more out there. I found hope in knowing that one day I would be out of the mess and on a better path.
- Turn your abuse story into a way to help others. Allow the pain and hardship you’ve experienced turn you into a compassionate, caring person who can help other people going through their own difficulties. You might be stuck wishing you could just feel normal. For most people, normal means skating through life, driven by pleasure and comfort, unaware of life’s deeper issues. You are much more awake and alive to the reality of life’s beauty and complexities. If this makes you a deeper, more loving person, then use that to help others. Corie encouraged: I know we go through things for a reason and can learn from it but sometimes the pain, the feelings, thoughts and emotions are just so overwhelming at times. I share this because I want other survivors to know the feelings they have are normal for someone who has been abused. With time the overwhelming feelings can subside and life can get better if you just give it time. Don’t give up!
- Forgive your abuser. This might be the most difficult thing you ever have to do, but it will also be the most freeing experience possible. Even Jesus said to pray for your enemies People will say all kinds of things against you, I say pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44) Jonathan commented: One of the biggest things someone who lives in an abusive home needs to do is to learn how to forgive. It’s not easy, but building up hostility towards the abuser(s) will not help anything. Forgive your abuser, and then find others who have been able to forgive their abusers, as well.
- Run to God. Every time it hurts, let it push you back to God and to those who love you the most. Rely on God. He promises to be with you, and to never leave you or forsake you. Katie commented with this encouragement: Know that you are a child of God and you are not what others say or make you feel. Life is about experiences and you can learn from it and build yourself up. In this life you are what you make yourself not what others tear you down to be.
Your life does not have to be ruined because you have been abused. It is not a death sentence, but a challenge to overcome. You can be a survivor. In fact, you can be an over-comer! Hang onto the confidence that you are still here and willing to deal with it.
Maria encouraged: There is always help out there, sometimes from people you least expect. There is always hope, don’t give up on it, because if you do, you’re basically giving up on living and loving. Life is too short and too important to live with no hope.
Thank you for sharing your very personal stories in the comments you submitted. I have learned so much about your courage and hope. I know others have learned, as well. God bless you.