Thursday, August 1, 2013
Survivor Partners: the secondary victims of a survivors abuser(s).
I am sure this definition is exactly how many partners feel. Partners are surviving the aftermath and recovery of a survivor, all thanks to a monster or group of such.
Often partners do not know they are getting into a relationship with a survivor until they've already fallen in love and made a commitment.
Survivors themselves frequently keep this fact about their identity close for many reasons. One major reason is fear of being victimized again by a potential partner. According to RAINN 38% of rapists are friends or acquaintances to their victim. So it's no surprise that survivors are careful to let the fact they are a survivor be known by someone until they know them better.
Many times families fail supporting and believing a survivor contributing further to the need of secrecy. Add to that, once victimized survivors become targets for other predators and it's not hard to see survivors have trust issues. Unfortunately partners will suffer this with them.
For survivors of incest the challenge in recovery of learning to trust can be overwhelming.
According to the well known child psychologist Erik Erikson the very first stage of a child's psychosocial development is Trust versus Mistrust. This is where hope and drive is formed in an individual.
Now imagine this very foundational stage being shaken and battered. Negative self beliefs and hopelessness can take over and be the "drive" for this particular survivors mind. Continued abuse (especially by family members) only reinforces the detrimental psychological damage to the survivor.
How do you undo this kind of deep core mental damage in a person?
Rest assured there is hope even for this survivor. It is more challenging but, hopeful even still.
Popular therapies are hypnosis or derivatives of it.
Partners may feel like they've been "played" or misled by their survivor.
Their survivor doesn't seem to trust them or, the survivor is confusing in what she does and doesn't seem to trust in her partner. Their survivor may seem not even trust herself in many ways.
Partners, if you find yourself feeling any of the above, GET HELP. If you plan on staying committed to your survivor for the long haul, get help for yourself to understand her and help you stay strong for her. Sometimes what your survivor needs is not a tough fighter. Instead, a gentle invited hug, a knowing glance, and listening ear without reaction are all your survivor needs from you.
Don't be upset if your survivor wants to enjoy a relationship with you apart from ever talking about her abuse. It is not personal and actually may be a mercy to you. This can only be successful if she is in therapy though or getting help.
There is also the situation of partners being lied too.
In the beginning of telling my husband about my past I lied a lot about things.
Some things I did not want to seem as bad as they actually where. Some things I wanted to make myself look worse in, because I was dealing with feelings of guilt and denial. There were things I wanted to take back control of mentally and lied to make myself seem as though I wanted what I got.
It was so habitual for me to lie for my abusers that I hadn't learned how to STOP lying for or about them. This is what happens when survivors don't get help before entering into a relationship after abuse.
I've said it before and I will say it again. There was so much that my husband and I didn't HAVE to suffer through but, because of my lies and not getting help our relationship suffered greatly in the beginning. Survivors, trust me you don't want that burden on your shoulders.
Partners, one of the best gifts you can give your survivor is getting them help.
Partners need help and support as well so below I am posting a few (and there are very few)
places that are good resources.
A website specifically for partners of childhood sexual abuse survivors Support For Partners.
Support For Partners a closed group on Facebook
Quick Tips for Partners of rape survivors.
Hope for the Healing is specifically for partners who's survivor was raped after getting married/committed.