People who were in abusive relationships are often different than others and being with someone like this can be confusing at times.
Often people do not know how to react when their partners tell them that they were in an abusive relationship before.
1.Inform yourself It is important to know that there are several different types of traumas and also that an abusive relationship does not necessarily mean that it was physically abusive as well. Toxic relationships often remain “just” psychical while these also leave deep scars on the survivor’s soul. Being put down, being felt unworthy and crazy is very common in those relationships. The abusers first create a bond between them and the victim. Creating a deep attachment is what they’re good at. Abusers are mostly very charming and from the outside they seem like the “cool guy” or “cool nice girl”. It is mask; psychopaths, narcopaths, sociopaths and narcissists are perfect actors and are perfect at manipulating people. It is not easy to look behind that mask and unfortunately very often only the victims have to see their real face one day, normally when they’re already attached to that person. Those people are masters at pretending and lying and also at showing others that their partner is the crazy one. Most people who get out of a relationship like this have to fight trust issues and a low self-esteem thinking they’re unworthy and probably thinking they all deserved it. It is a long way to understand that nothing was the victim’s fault but the abuser’s. So inform yourself about psychopaths, narcopaths, narcissists and sociopaths. Those people normally do not feel as other people do. Often the only feeling they know is rage and anger. All other feelings are normally fake and with a close look at their behaviours you can sometimes spot the “fakeness”, everything they do often seems exaggerated.
2. Believe him/her When your partner tells you about his/her history, believe him/her. It probably took him/her a lot to even talk about this, so appreciate his/her trust and believe him/her. The abuser probably gave him/her the feeling of being the crazy one and talking about this is a big step and believing that it he/she was not the crazy one is not simple after being in a manipulative relationship.
3. Do not ask why he / she was involved with a person like that in the first place or stayed with that person Like I explained above, abusers are normally very manipulative and charming and do not seem bad at first glance, they create a deep attachment before showing their real face.
Keep in mind, every human being can be manipulated, just think of advertising; how often did you buy something because the advert was good? And this is just one simple example. Humans get manipulated almost daily and brain washing someone is possible. Some people are easier to manipulate than others but it can happen do every one. Is this attachment created it is hard to cut this person out of your life. The abuser has been lovely so why shouldn’t it just be a bad phase? If you’re in a toxic relationship then you often think of those good times you had, telling yourself that this is just a bad phase and you cannot just end everything because of a bad phase, right? If you’re in love with someone you do not want to see the ugly truth. It’s not that simple to see the ugly truth. It is everything but easy to accept the fact that the person you love can hurt you so deeply and to forgive yourself to let this person into your life. So do not ask your partner why he/she stayed, tell him/her that you think it’s brave and admirable that he/she made it out there alive.
4. Do not make him/her feel like a victim Your partner went through hell and came out alive, your partner is a warrior and survivor, not a victim and on top of that your partner very probably felt like a victim for a long time and this is everything but a nice feeling. Your partner needs you to be strong for him/her because he/she feels vulnerable when he/she tells you about everything. Of course it’s hard to understand how someone could hurt him/her so wickedly and it might make you angry but do not react in an aggressive way, try to keep calm and tell him/her you believe him/her and that he/she is a survivor and that you are always there to talk to. Of course you can say things like you cannot understand how someone could hurt your partner so deeply but do it in a calmly way to not scare him/her. Be his/her rock.
5. Do understand his/her reactions Going through a hell like this leaves deep wounds on one’s soul and one consequence is often having panic attacks or simply being more sensitive concerning some things. Try to talk to your partner about this and ask how he/she would like you to react if he/she ever has a panic attack or ask what might feel uncomfortable for him/her. Since every experience is different the reactions and traumas are different. But in every situation keeping calm is always a good reaction. Ask him/her if you can hold him/her, if he/she wants a tea or wants to be alone. When he/she panics remain calm! Do not panic or cry or anything like this. Talking during a panic attack or shortly after is very hard but talk to him/her anyway, even if you do not get a reply. Try to calm him/her in the best way thinkable and accept it if he/she does not want to talk about it in that moment, you can try it the next day again if you have questions but always keep in mind that your partner might feel exposed, weak and vulnerable in those situations. So be sensitive about it but not too much, as I said, do not make your partner feel like a victim.
6. Accept and respect his/her boundaries If your parner experienced sexual assault or rape then he/she might behave different than other people. They might want to stop during the act because they do not feel comfortable and you have to accept it and stop immediately. Keep in mind that everything can be a trigger that causes flashbacks and panic attacks. If your partner does not want to have sex with you yet then you need to accept it and if he / she is truly important to you then there is no need to rush things anyway. Your partner has to heal from those wounds and this is the most important thing. Your partner is not prude for not wanting to do everything in bed or to do anything for the moment. Your partner just went through a heartbreaking agony and needs time. But also do not make decisions for him/her. If he/she wants to sleep with you just make sure he/she really wants to but do not say no because you think it might be the best for him/her. It’s your partner’s decision if he himself/she herself wants it, so if you both want it it’s fine.
7. He/She won’t get over it soon Do never ask your partner to get over it already. He/she can’t get over something that changed his/her life forever. Telling your partner that it should be time to be over it is one of the biggest mistakes you can do. Do not ever rush your partner. Seriously.
8. Good and bad days There are good and bad days. Some days are easier for your partner than others, it might even seem like he/she healed from those wounds but they will be days when he/she has the feeling as this whole thing swallows him/her. There might be days where it is hard to even get out of bed. So be patient. Try to understand him/her and be supportive as possible as you can be. Encourage your partner to take care of him-/herself but don’t be pushy. Encourage him/her to talk about his/her feelings, take him/her seriously and ask how you can help.
9. Recognize your partner’s strength and help him/her to do so, too, as well as feeling better about himself/herself. Most survivors feel extremely guilty for what happened, help your partner to get rid of this feeling and support him/her by pointing out his/her strength. There will be days when your partner has the feeling as he/she can’t make it on her own or feels like giving up. Encourage her in all ways thinkable and give him/her a feeling of being safe and worthy. And help your partner to consider professional help.
10. Do not think you have to fix it all Don’t think you have to be the one to fix it all. That’s impossible and to heal from those deep wounds is mostly impossible without professional help. Support your partner to find this and be there to talk to but keep in mind you cannot replace a therapist. Rather help your partner to find one without making him/her feeling crazy. Seeking professional help can be a big step since you have to face your own problems and some people feel ashamed of having to go to a therapist yet when people are physically sick they all go to see a doctor. A wound on your soul is as damaging for your whole being as a visible one and it often needs help to heal and this is nothing to be ashamed of.
Just make it clear that you will support your partner but that some things need a bit of extra help to be fixed. Also do not make your partner feel damaged. Your partner went to through hell and is wounded but your partner is not damaged, just deeply hurt and traumatized.
I know that these things can seem a lot to ask for but if you truly care for your partner then you have to think about this. It is probably a big step that your partner even decided to be in a relationship again so appreciate his/her trust. Your partner will heal but you can be a big help or you can be a hurdle. Keep that in mind and in return you will get probably the deepest love that you have ever experienced. People with walls up normally love the deepest 😉
If you have any questions or whatever, feel free to leave a comment;)