Over-controlling behavior is one of the most commons signs of an abusive relationship. Often, an abuser will want to know where a victim is 24/7 and get very picky about who that victim can and can’t spend time with, among insisting on control in other ways. Obviously, this causes a ton of stress and trust issues for you if you’re a victim, but it’ll eventually influence your friendships as well. See, when you’re friends with someone who enters an abusive situation, there’s often a point at which you realize that it’s abusive before that person does, and they might eventually start pushing you away. It’s hard to communicate that you see that darkness to someone who’s pushing you away, even if it’s not necessarily their decision to do so.
So, let’s talk about after the abuse, because after is the important part; after is where we want to help people get, so I want to prepare you for it. Even if it takes years, even if it takes a long string of abusive people, let’s say that you’re in a much better place now, made stronger by your experiences and trying to get back in touch with people.
I want to tell you that it’s a movie scene, that people make up and forgive and cry and hug a little. And yes, I want to stress to you that some people, the people that matter, those people will never go anywhere. Even if they don’t feel like they’re there, they will always be in the background waiting to stand beside you whenever you’re ready.
But. People aren’t built for the kind of darkness that comes from abuse, obviously. When you’re in the position of the victim’s friend, it can be easy to see that darkness and, after enough time, no longer make the distinction that your hurt is coming from the abuse, not from your friend. And, after enough years of the dissonance that causes, it’s also easy to only see that darkness in your friend, even after they’ve come out on the other side. So, for when this happens, because I promise you that it will, here you go:
To the survivor:
Number one. Rest. You’ve just been through hell, and if people in your life can’t see the gold that’s been forged in your heart, they’re not looking hard enough. Try not to stress about those people, and focus on what I’m about to say next instead.
Know that you aren’t alone. Like I said earlier, even though it’s terrifying to survive abuse and not feel wanted by some of the people you love afterwards, try to remember that the people that matter are still there. You are beautiful, and you are strong and full of light, and there are people who do see that, so try to surround yourself with them. It won’t fix things, but all love does is mend.
Know that the darkness hated by the people in your life, even if they shun you for it, does not come from you. It came into your life with the abuse.
I’m not going to tell you that those people will come back, or that they should. But, if they do, and that relationship is healed, I’m glad.
To the friend:
Know that you are loved. It’s terrifying to see someone you love choose something that you see abuse in, and for them to keep choosing it and pushing you away, but they love you with every ounce they did before any of this happened, probably more now that they’re stronger emotionally. Try to separate the hurt from them if you can; please don’t give up on them.
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