How Can I Help the Surivivor?
posted on www.beyond-abuse.org
The wonderful thing about recovery is that it is not accomplished alone. As we grow and heal, we share our hurts, challenges, and insights with others and they grow, too! They develop compassion and empathy as they share our burdens and our victories. They become a part of a spiritual conquest that will demand that they develop sensitivity, honesty, and firm boundaries, for hurting people may unintentionally hurt others, demanding time, involvement, and understanding that may be beyond what our friends are able to give.
If you are in relationship with someone who is recovering from abuse, abandonment, or neglect, you want to heal that person. But you can’t. God alone is the healer. Our bumbling attempts to “fix” others whom we love often hurt more than they help.
So what can we do to reach out in love to the person we love, the person who has suffered abuse? Validate them. The fact that they are expressing their hurt and pain is much more important that how they are able to verbalize it. They may use words that are uncharacterically harsh, crude, or even hateful. If the words are about the abuse, the abuser, or others who colluded in the crime against them, you need to know that the survivor is emptying out a reservoir of pent up thoughts, emotions, and resentments that are traumatic to them. Be empathetic, non-judging, and compassionate. If the words are directed toward you, firmly state your boundaries and then stand by them. You might say, “I know you are in a lot of pain, but your pain is not about me and I can’t be here for you if you make me the object of your resentment.”
Good boundaries are essential to being an effective helper for those we love. Someone has said, “Hurt people–hurt people.” All of us have, at times, hurt the person we love. Survivors of abuse have a tremendous amount of hurt to process, and we are loving them appropriately when we help them process well.