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Facts, Tips and Resources to help you help others.

Helping Survivors Heal

Thoughts from a person who has been there!

While talking and facing abuse in a supportive, understanding environment can help, it often takes time to open up. Why would anyone choose not to heal? The answer is simple: Healing hurts! The healing process is enormously painful. Survivors who have dissociated away the painful emotions of their past do not consciously feel those dissociated emotions on a conscious level. They go through life feeling numb and detached from their lives and from themselves.

I used to feel righteously angry a lot. I was 'white knuckling' my way through my days. I was anxious. What kind of choice is that? I had to reach a place where I believed feeling the pain was worth the payoff. Until a person believes that there will, in fact, be a payoff to enduring the pain, why would they choose to feel it? So, education about the long-term benefits of choosing to heal is crucial.

I tell people that choosing to heal is an investment in their future. As painful as the healing process will be for a year or two, the payoff of living the remainder of your life in freedom is worth the pain today.

Get to know someone who has been through the healing process. Their life speaks for itself. I have a friend who is in the throes of the healing process right now, and the most helpful thing I can do is to show her my life. She knew me before, during, and after I went through the same process, and she can see that my journey was worth the effort.

No matter how much you try to "sell" the benefits of healing to another person, some are going to reject the message. A rejection of the message today is not a rejection of the message forever. Many are in mid-life before they work through the healing process. I needed to reach a place in my life where I felt safe and stable enough to face my past. So, try to remember that your efforts in loving a survivor are not wasted, even if they do not embrace your message today. You are planting a seed that, hopefully, will grow in the future.