Being a victim of an emotional abuse is a horrifying experience that has the ability to scar a person’s life and inflict traumatic injuries. It’s like living with the memories of the scariest nightmare ever dreamt.
Only it’s not a dream. It is a cold, harsh reality and it hurts like hell.
Regardless of the fact that it’s all in the past and regardless of what you think about their struggle, these individuals suffer. Mostly because not everyone can understand what they’re going through.
A lot of these people are constantly left out in the cold without having someone they can turn to. They are practically left with little to no options at all. Because in some cases they suffer silently.
That is why it is crucial for you to understand that the wounds they have, they are fresh. They bleed even though it seems like everything ended a long time ago. You may not see it, but inside their world, they walk around on a minefield.
Every step they make is crucial to their existence.
So, here’s everything you can do to help and support a loved one who survived an emotional abuse:
1. ACCEPT THE FACT THAT YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING THEY’VE EXPERIENCED
It will get pretty irritating and tiresome, but you have to understand that you won’t always be able to comprehend the depths of misery they endured and survived.
There will be times when they’ll be even more confused than you are.
2. BE THERE FOR THEM AND LISTEN TO WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY
But, even though you’ll often feel like you are not helping, sometimes only being there and listening would do more for them than any therapy session ever could.
So, no matter how lost or confused you are, stay there. Sit beside them. Hold their hand. Offer them your shoulder for crying. Listen.
3. HUG THEM. A LOT
They’ve been through hell and back, so the only thing they need right now is just someone who’ll say that “It is okay” and a warm, tender hug. Wrap your arms around them and never ever let them go.
4. KINDLY ASK THEM HOW ARE THEY DOING, BUT BE PREPARED FOR THE SAME ANSWER OVER AND OVER AGAIN
You have to understand that the healing process will last as long as they feel like it. They may have survived the nightmare and safely got out of it, but their mind is the next thing they have to face and confront.
They’ll be questioning themselves, replaying conversations, obsessing about all of it over and over in their head. Be patient. In time, it will all pass.
5. DON’T FORCE THEM TO BE HAPPY AND “GET OVER IT”
Forget this idea of forcing them to just get over it and continue with their life. They were wounded, and their scars aren’t visible, so you need to remember that the one who measures their progress is themselves.
They will determine their timeline for healing.
This is an extremely crucial rule you need to follow because it is a particular area where survivors often feel like they are not supported by the people around them.
6.RESPECT THEIR NEED FOR SOLITUDE
They’ve spent months and years trapped inside a maze of emotional abuse. They’ve endured yelling, lies, manipulation tricks, put-downs and thousands of other things that left them severely bruised up.
So, right now, their mind is louder than ever. They need their solitude. They need to reconnect with themselves. Don’t take this personally. Just give them the time they need.
7. HUG THEM MORE. AND MORE. AND MORE
Because there is no such thing as too many hugs!
8. JUST SIT BESIDE THEM AND ENJOY THE SILENCE
Be ready to just sit beside them and say nothing. There will be times when they’ll only need you to hold their hand and not say a single word.
Sometimes the silence can say everything we need to hear.
9. SHOW THEM YOUR LOVE THROUGH YOUR ACTIONS, NOT YOUR WORDS
A person who suffered through an abusive relationship where words were hollow and had no meaning needs more reassurance that love exists and it’s really out there.
To them, actions matter more than words. It is the only thing that will help them move on and heal.
Show them that this is for real. Express your feelings and do it consistently.
10. UNDERSTAND THAT YOU CAN’T FIX WHAT’S BROKEN
In situations like this, it is essential to be thick-skinned. They will need a lot of time to heal and reconnect with themselves and you’ll need a lot of patience to cope with their condition.
After all, it is crucial for you to realize that some things cannot be fixed or forced.
Don’t you think that after that traumatic experience in which they were told how to behave, think and what to do or like, they just need to press the pause button and just be for a while?
Image: Guillaume Gaubert