The Survivor, PTSD and Relationships

healingBeing a survivor of domestic violence is hard enough. I don’t know one survivor who does not suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  There are the flashbacks, insomnia, anxiety attacks, and depression that can be crippling to daily living.  Just because we have suffered from trauma and/or abuse, does not mean we don’t long for one of the basic human need – and that is the need to be loved and truly cared about..

Having PTSD and being in a relationship is not easy.  It takes an overwhelming amount of love and understanding on the part of your significant other to help make the relationship healthy.  We may understand that ourselves, but may not always know how to verbalize it.  We have been conditioned to stay silent despite the abuse, to wait for the hurricane to pass and to be able to wake up another day.  We do not ask for sleepless nights.  We do not ask for anxiety attacks, or hypersensitivity to certain situations, smells, places and the like. Having PTSD does not mean that we are crazy – we experience normal reactions to abnormal trauma.

There is a very fine line between being in a healthy relationship where couples argue or disagree and arguing to the point where you feel less than a human being – or you make someone else feel less than a human being.

In the context of a relationship, arguing can be healthy and constructive.  But when those words turn demeaning and condescending, combined with yelling, it can quickly transform us back to a place that we have struggled hard to get away from.  It’s easy to dismiss and minimize us and call us names – bitch, crazy bitch, and pass judgement on us.  We have a very high and thick wall around us to protect us from people who callously try to take what’s left of our soul.

For a survivor, there is a thin line between maintaining your survivorship in a positive way and become an abuser.  The difference is, is that if we become abusive, it’s because we become tired of being victimized by another person.  It’s a defense mechanism, and if it gets out of control, we can easily become abusive.

Everyone has experiences and stories that make us who we are.  Don’t judge us until you’ve walked a mile in our shoes.

 

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