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At the beginning of the month we talked about how survivors of sexual abuse often create a comfort zone for themselves. Two different images were offered - that of wrapping yourself up with insulation like a blanket or forming a protective wall. It may also be a comfy nest that you don’t really want to leave, even when it’s time.
Let’s explore what a comfort zone might look like for you.
As sexual abuse survivors, we have had to create safety for ourselves. We experienced the unthinkable and now feeling vulnerable and/or out of control can be frightening and uncomfortable. For me, there were a number of layers I wrapped myself up to feel safe and secure.
Although it can be as quick as a few minutes, a traumatic event, such as sexual abuse, has harmful ripples that extend out decades and even generations. If the deeper struggles aren’t addressed, brought to light, and healed, each survivor will pass on the proclivity for poor choices and destructive relationships to the next generation. Sadly, I know this firsthand as my family has suffered multiple generations of trauma and sexual assault. Starting with my grandmother, and cascading down to most recently, my beloved daughter, the women in my lineage have been and are survivors.
One common thread in my survivor story is feeling alone in my journey. I was told during my years of abuse that no one, even those closest to me, would ever believe my claims. Like many sexual abuse survivors, I have a community of people around me that love me and actively work to “support” me. Yet, the concept of support and people’s ability to provide that most loving of care is seldom understood. It is this lack of understanding at the level one might hope for, and require, that prevents proper exploration of the issue.
Currently, 2020 is acting as a magnifying glass in the sun towards communities seeking greater support from society. America is struggling with Covid-19 impacts that cause heightened levels of anxiety from coast-to-coast. In the wake of multiple murders by police, Black Lives Matters is demanding the world address systemic racism including America’s need for health and policing reform. In late June, an international movement exposing sexual assault in the wrestling industry (a global sport where men and women compete side-by-side) was created with the hashtag #speakingout. This newest sexual abuse movement is still evolving, but driving conversation about sexual abuse in the workplace, gender bias in sports, retaliation, lingering effects of trauma, and how words matter.
From listening to the news, interacting with loved ones and reading social media, I’ve noticed four types of supporters. There is also a type who is incapable of support, or ostrich, which consciously or subconsciously ignores an issue. By investigating each one, you may identify people in your life, what they are capable of handling, and how to maintain healthy engagement. The next blog will offer tips to improve communication and interactions with each group.