You may feel lonely. That’s common. Not just as a survivor of child sexual abuse, but as a human being. You may feel as though no one understands, that no one knows what you’re experiencing. And maybe you’re right, but maybe not. Perhaps you need to find a friend who is also a survivor. Not to say that no one else can empathize with you, but having another survivor as a friend can provide a uniquely empathetic relationship.
Having a support system is important for anyone working to overcome past trauma. And while anyone (a spouse, a family member, a friend, etc.) willing to be patient and understanding can make an excellent supporter, sometimes it helps to connect with someone who’s been in the trenches, someone who knows what you’re going through on a deeply personal level.
There are many benefits to reaching out and befriending another survivor. Of course, everyone is different, so not ALL survivors will make a good friend, but you should look for certain qualities in that unique type of relationship. Here are just a few:
No two stories are the same, but a fellow survivor may understand what you’ve been through, and what you’re going through, in a way that few others can. As you take steps on your healing journey, they can cheer you on and know what a big deal every little change is.
They’re there for the good and the bad.
Every setback you have can feel devastating and sometimes you need someone to tell you that it’s okay. It’s okay to fail. At the same time, there are tiny victories that few others will know to celebrate with you that a fellow survivor can.
Their recommendations are amazing.
Need a therapist? A yoga studio that’s trauma-sensitive? A good book to read about [insert topic here]? Another survivor might be able to help you! Maybe they’ve been to that therapist, tried that yoga studio, and read that book! What’s more, they can ask you for your recommendations and you can help each other.
They listen to you.
Maybe you have the same problem/issue/regret for what feels like the fiftieth time today. Someone who’s been through it before may listen in a unique way. Sometimes that’s all you need – for someone to hear you.
They don’t judge you.
You know that unhealthy coping mechanism that you have? A good friend isn’t going to encourage you to use it, but they’ll understand if you fall back on it. They’ll help you find better ways to deal but won’t judge those times when you resort to old habits.
A friend who has been where you’ve been can be a fantastic ally on your healing journey. It will help you build a support system for yourself, and give you a feeling of community. Not sure where to start? Our social media pages are a great place to meet other like-minded survivors. It’s as easy as starting a conversation with someone. Another option would be to start a Finding Hope Support Group in your area and create a safe space for survivors to gather.
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