There are many different ways in which people can be abused, including, but not exclusive to: sexual abuse, domestic violence, verbal abuse, physical abuse – including neglect – modern slavery and psychological or emotional abuse.
Are you a victim of abuse? Do you feel alone and unheard? Currently trapped in a situation you don’t know how to escape from? Perhaps you feel trapped in memories of abuse from your childhood, memories which can prevent you living a full and happy life?
Whatever kind of abuse you have suffered in your past or are suffering in your current life, speaking to a professional who can support you to explore your experience (past or present) can begin to unlock the truth about what has happened to you, or is still happening.
Finding the right therapist who can listen to you with the respect that you deserve can be the start of a healing process which can change your life.
If you suffered abuse of any kind in your past, it is not unusual to lock away your feelings from that time or even to feel guilty about what happened to you, as if you were at fault. But this is often a survival mechanism, a way of ‘getting through’ your experience. Therapy is a forum in which you have the chance to unlock those feelings, find your truth and your voice in what happened to you and work through how your experience has impacted you in your adult life.
If you are currently in an abusive situation, a therapist can help to empower you to get you the help that you need, find your authority and they can give you tools to protect yourself in a healthy and safe way.
How will just talking about my abuse help? …
then what? I still feel ‘bad’ and like I’ve done something wrong, I still feel scared and alone.
Yes, it takes time to unpick the messages we have internalised from the abuse we have suffered or we’re still suffering. It takes courage to begin to let go of beliefs and behaviour which we have lived with for so long – as a way of surviving. It takes commitment to ‘stay the course’ and continue down the path towards healing …
But therapy can help you to learn about yourself – who you are, what you believe and what you feel. It can help to know that somebody else cares, wants to help, won’t judge or criticise but will support and listen to you.
Victims of abuse can often feel like they ‘deserve’ what has happened, or is happening, to them. Messages like ‘it’s my fault’, ‘if I was different, everything would be OK’ and ‘if only I’d …’ are not uncommon.
But that is what the abuser wants you to feel. Humiliation and shame are some ways in which they keep you feeling ‘small’ and powerless.
Talking about your experience of abuse and having that experience witnessed with respect and honour is a courageous and often empowering way to redress the balance, to square up to your abuser. Being truly heard without criticism or judgement can often be the starting point towards healing.
What difference could therapy make?
The journey in therapy can be challenging and sometimes painful, but its end goal is one of empowerment and healing. When we learn to value ourselves, to put our needs first, to respect and express our emotions freely – rather than shut them down or turn them against ourselves in a punishing way – then we can step into our authority and start to lay down boundaries about what is and is not acceptable to us.
We can be free from our experience of abuse. We can learn to live with our heads held high and our self-respect intact. We can recover from abuse.