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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.
Earlier in the series, we discussed the impact of nonsupporters or individuals who are only capable of passive support. We now turn our attention towards individuals who are better equipped to provide more active methods of support. Our hope is that you can discover ways of better engaging these support systems to provide you a more impactful form of support, as well as discover ways you can learn to become a more mindful supporter to people and causes you hold dear to your heart.
A term that is currently pervasive, this person offers support in a more active way that examines the many facets of an issue and serves as an empathetic ear to facilitate improvement.
Ally is a prominent buzzword today. It conjures up close friends and family who you can call in a trying time. You trust this person will create time to listen to you and provide you a sense of peace and safe haven that helps you formulate a game plan to solve your most pressing issues. The following exercise will help sustain healthy relationships with the allies in your life.
Support can mean many things to people, but a commonality is a desire to feel included and valued by those we love and society. When we feel pain or fear, it is human nature to crave love and encouragement. People with a history of trauma are in greater need of external sources of empathy to help jumpstart our own abilities to cultivate that loving-kindness for ourselves. Sadly, the depths and complexity of our experience can make it difficult for people, even those to whom we are most bonded, to understand and subsequently assist us during our hardship.
At the beginning of the month, four types of support systems, and one nonsupporter, archetypes were highlighted ranging from the most passive type of involvement to the most active. When you understand the mindset of someone who you might be seeking advice or support from, you can ensure that you set healthy boundaries and expectations. This will be essential for you to maintain thriver mindset and continue your path in reclaiming your going-forward story. However, it is always helpful to have a few tools to assist you in navigating these relationships. In this blog, we will cover a few exercises to help you gain more clarity and peace on how to interact with each of these supporters who might be involved in your life.
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.