If the horrific things that happened to you are “too much” for him, he’s probably not ready to be in a relationship (with you or anyone.)
At 19, that’s quite understandable, however, it’s not by any means the rule.
If the love is there, regardless of age, he’ll be willing to work with you in any ways you need. I speak from experience. I didn’t start processing my trauma until well into my now-marriage, and my guy didn’t go anywhere. He listened when I needed, went into another room when I needed, worked to understand my triggers and not only how to avoid them but how to help me cope with and eventually overcome them. I think he did everything right, and not because he had to, but because he wanted to. It really comes down to maturity and willingness to commit.
J and I went through 4 years of pure Hell, but we’ve had 6 years of bliss since those dark times. He could have chosen to walk away at any moment, but he didn’t, and I think in any Survivor/partner relationship a lot of things come down to a simple (but difficult) choice.
If your partner does decide that Surviving with you isn’t something he wants, that’s not your fault. Not everyone is strong enough to love a Survivor, especially when their past is really more a recently passed present. No matter what, though, you need to know that you are deserving of love, what happened to you didn’t change that. It changed a lot, but never the fact that you deserve love and respect and compassion.
Not every survivor remembers the date it happened. However, for the ones that do, these dates can be terrifying reminders of the past.
Personally, my traumaversary is Oct 29th. I started making plans for how to handle it 3 months in advance. Planning ahead, as far as you can, is probably a good thing to do.
If you’re in college, talk to your professors. See if you can be excused from class that day, complete work due that day ahead of time, stuff like that.
If you’re able to, see if you can take off work that day, or if nothing else, just give a heads up to your boss that you may not be at your best.
Remove temptation. If you’re worried you may hurt yourself that day, go ahead and get rid of the things you could do so with. Even if it is only asking a friend to hold on to them until you’re feeling better. This is not a sign of weakness, it is not you being a burden. It is you realizing that it probably isn’t going to be a good day and you don’t want to relapse if you can help it. It is a big step, and I am super proud of you.
See if people are willing to check in with you. Whether it be a phone call, a text, a facebook chat, or coming to hang out with you- it is nice to know that people are going to be there for you on that day.
Prepare. Make food before hand or have things that can be mircrowaved, have ‘easy’ clothing sets ready, You may surprise yourself and that day be perfectly okay- but it’s better to have things on hand just in case.
Leave nice notes for yourself. Or have a friend help you. Especially if you think the day is going to be really rough. Having a note on the fridge, the bathroom mirror, the door… Little ‘remember, you can make it through this. I believe in you’ and various things can wonderful.
The Day of:
Be kind to yourself. It isn’t your fault if you’re upset or angry or spend all day crying. It isn’t your fault. There is nothing /wrong/ with you for reacting. You are a human being who has been through terrible trauma and anyone who judges you for how you heal is ignorant and cruel. There is also nothing wrong with you if the day goes perfectly well and you aren’t affected at all. It doesn’t mean that what happened wasn’t terrible. It just means you’re at a different place in your journey.
Know that you’re in control. You’re allowed to be alone that day if you want. You’re allowed to surround yourself with friends. You’re allowed to go out in public. You’re allowed to stay at home. Do not feel like you have to do one thing or another. Your main concern on this day should be you. Even if you make plans, you’re allowed to change them. Just because you decide a week in advance that you’re going to do plan A doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to throw that to the wind and do something else on that day.
Memorialize it. Now this is a personal choice, not everyone -wants- to make their trauma dates into memorials and that is a-okay. But for a lot of us, it is about taking back that day and turning it into something new. Get a tattoo. Plant a tree. Go sky diving. Go to a theme park and ride roller coasters all day. Anything that you could look back on that date and go ‘I did it.’
Self Care. Take a day for self care. Watch terrible romantic comedies/sci-fi flicks/horror movies all day. Take a bubble bath. Spend time with friends who love you. Drink your favorite tea/coffee. Go to the humane shelter and pet dogs/cats. Whatever it is that you think would make you feel better? Do it.
Make something. Follow your own emotions with it. Paint. Draw. Sculpt. Even if you’ll later destroy it. Even if you finish it- you immediately rip it apart or set it on fire. At least you got it out of your system.
Give back. I know plenty of survivors who choose to spend their anniversaries volunteering in one way or another. Go through your closet and donate old clothes to a shelter that helps survivors. Make a care package with a letter to donate to a women’s shelter- pass on encouragement and advice.
Whatever you choose to do, in whatever combination- be easy on yourself. Take a moment every now and then to check in with yourself, and ask if you’re okay.
No matter what, I want you all to remember that I believe in you. You made it through the trauma, and you can make it through this. And I’m not saying that to silence your pain.
Your pain is valid. Your hurt is valid. You are valid.
Take care of yourself, okay?
Ok Dr. Phil’s wife, Robin, (yes groan, but listen up) has this new app out (iPhone and Android) that’s for people in abusive relationships. It’s called Aspire News and it’s disguised as a regular news app, but when you go to the “Help” section of the app, it leads you to domestic violence resources and also has a “Go Button” that when you press it, if you’re in a compromising situation, alerts local authorities as well as local shelters and starts recording everything that is going on.
Now, if you’re looking up resources on the app and your abuser is near, simply press the X button and it brings you to a random news page. Same goes for the actual foundation site.
IT’S COMPLETELY FREE
This Ask was sent 20 hours prior: I start therapy tomorrow and I’m terrified! I don’t want to go, but I know I need to. I haven’t eaten all day and the last few nights sleep has been scarce. I’m so anxious. How do I know it’s going to work? I don’t want anyone else to know about what happened, much less a stranger.
I have heard of it before, and while I don’t have any statistics on the subject, I can say with certainty that you aren’t alone in this phenomena.
If there is any way for you to obtain counseling or therapy, I suggest that, as opening up about your past in your waking life is the only way I know of to stop it from haunting your subconscious.
Much love and hope,
You aren’t obligated to tell her—or anyone else—anything. Tattoos are for the people who wear them, not the people who view them. Though you should be aware that if you place is somewhere highly visible, you will be asked about its meaning, in public places by complete strangers.
If your heart is set on getting the ink before you’re 18, you’ll have to come up with some sort of reason for her to sign off on it. I suggest waiting, or if you decide you’re ready to share your truth with her, going the route I did, and write her a letter. It’s so much easier to write out the words than it is to say them.
Much luck and love in whatever you decide,
1. Triggers aren’t as easy as they seem.
Some things are easy enough, tw: rape tw: victim blaming tw: graphic content.
Some things aren’t. How do you explain to a friend ‘If you make me feel small- I will get sick’. How do you tell a lover, ‘Don’t call me beautiful, or gorgeous, or pretty. In fact- just please, don’t say anything’.
Or explain to someone, ” I can’t go through that line. That line has a man wearing a yellow shirt in it- and he is wearing a cologne and no. no. no. no.”
People think triggers are easy to understand- that those unaffected by trauma should still be able to understand the why.
If I can’t understand why I’m triggered by it- what makes you think you can.
2. Trauma would effect everything. Literally.
Something as simple as buying groceries, or going for a walk. Where I’m willing to be in public by myself.
What I will wear and when. And it isn’t so simple as just ‘covering up’. It’s ‘dress nice enough that no one will think there is something wrong with you’ next to ‘don’t dress too nice though- you don’t want anything to happen.’
It effects what I eat. Stress effects the stomach, and when your mind is constantly trying to avoid new trauma or thinking about old trauma.. then you have a lot of times where you’re either stress eating, or forgetting to eat from stress.
Sleep to avoid reality. Insomnia because nightmares.
It changed my speech patterns. Had to be careful not to invite things. Had to be careful to not be ‘b****’ who deserved what was coming.
Trauma changed everything.
3. Recovery isn’t a straight line.
The common theme seems to be ‘avoids life for x amount of days- maybe a week or two. friends come over pull victim back into the real world. there are 2, maybe 3 set backs- but by a few months- life returns to normal’
Personally it was more like ‘life goes on fast forward for the next two months, nothing is wrong- NOTHING IS WRONG- NOTHING IS WRONG IF YOU ASK ME ONE MORE TIME- crash. Refuses to deal with life 4 months. Begins to recover. set back. recover. set back. simultaneously does a little bit better in one area- and completely falls apart in another. set back. Too many weeks of wondering ‘is this behavior more attributed to recovery or relapse? how do I know?’
There are way too many variables for recovery to move in a straight line. There are times when we do things that are good for us- while simultaneously regressing in other areas.
4. Recovery isn’t always about going out, facing your fears, or punching your assailant in the face.
Sometimes recovery is making art about what happened.
It is talking honestly about your fears and doubts.
It is talking- at all- about what happened to you.
Recovery is reading terrible terrible fan fiction where the MC goes through something terrible- but finds their best friend through it all- and they go out and slay the dragon and win the hearts of everyone. It is believing that maybe you too will be able to slay the dragon.
It is admitting that you are hurting.
It is asking for help when you need it.
Recovery, is a thousand things.
but not an end goal. not really.
5. Love won’t actually save us.
Too often I saw this idea- that maybe if we found someone who found our pain tragically beautiful.. they could convince us of our worth. they could hold our hand in public and kiss away the pain. after a decent amount of time, you’d have sex- and you’d realize that things were going to be okay after all.
Our pain is not tragically beautiful.
We don’t necessarily have to save ourselves- not alone. But we have to put in the foot work, we have to respect our need to rest too though. We are more likely to get better with friends who extend hands to help us up- than lovers who kiss away memories of what happened.
6. Survivors actually aren’t that uncommon.
Too often I feel alone in a crowded room, feeling like everyone knows what happened and everyone thinks I’m a monster.
But I’ve learned, that when I speak up- inevitably, other people do too.
Whether it is reading a poem at a venue, or an offhanded comment. Once one person speaks…
someone else, who thought they were all alone, speaks up too.
We aren’t alone. The more we talk, the more we reach out, the more we find one another.
was probably the most healing thing I ever did.
Copied from an old, similar Ask:
They (The Marks) are for any kind of abuse, at any age.
Most of them that I know about represent sexual abuse, but that’s probably only because that’s what mine means and those are the types of forums on which I came up with it/shared it most in the beginning.
Truthfully I’ve been abused in every way over the course of my life. Sexually, emotionally, physically…I’ve talked mostly about the childhood sexual abuse, because I feel most affected by it, but that doesn’t make it more important than the other traumas.
If you feel like you want/need a Mark, get one! Honestly only you can decide if it’s right for you. It’s not for everyone, I get that a lot, too! A lot of, “Oh I could never wear *it* on my sleeve like that,” or, “I could never tell a stranger,” but it’s healed me. It’s never been difficult or strange or whatever…once I decided I wanted to talk about it, I never shut up!
Many people told me when I got my Survivor’s Mark (and went mega-public with its meaning) that I would change the world.
Photos of 51 Marks from 12 countries later, I’m starting to believe them.
I’m not doing it alone, though. Anyone who wears a Mark and/or tells their story is making a difference. So, thank you, Survivor family, for helping me realize my dream of leaving this world a bit better than I found it. Each and every one of you is a part of this revolution, and I couldn’t be more proud of you. Fighting the good fight is exhausting, but none of us has given up, and that’s beautiful.
Here’s to another day of Surviving and thriving in a world that would rather see us wither.