Love shouldn’t hurt – ever – 01/22/20

How You Respond by Teresia Smith Sexual assault victims, I hope someone has told you that what happened to you was not your fault. It was not something you asked for, it was not something you deserved. What happened to you was not fair and can never be justified. I am so sorry that someone else’s choices were forced upon you. Whether this happened to you yesterday or years ago when you were a child, it has left you stumbling, feeling powerless and afraid. Trauma such as this can leave us distressed and wounded for years, and that devastation will not go away on its own. Unprocessed pain and emotions that we keep on the sidelines don’t just heal. Instead, they fester and infect all areas of our lives. Whether it comes from sexual assault, domestic violence or just painful events or wrongdoings in your life – no matter the source – trauma will happen to everyone at some point in life. We cannot control when or how suffering will come upon us; however, we can choose how we deal with it. Choosing to do the work to heal from our trauma is left up to us. I recently read an article by Briana West who summed it up by saying, “Healing is our responsibility because if it isn’t, an unfair circumstance becomes an unlived life.” If we do not process our feelings and find a way to cope and heal, our unprocessed pain will touch everyone around us. We will find ourselves angry and withdrawn, even with our closest friends. By not seeking healing, we allow the pain of what happened to us to become how we treat those we love. We allow it to infect our whole life and cause poor choices and troubled relationships until we face it and find our way to cope. Working toward healing after trauma is important because we only get one life to live. We must refuse to allow the person who hurt us to control the rest of it, which basically re-victimizes us over and over. Sitting and waiting for the person who hurt us to apologize, show remorse or even be punished will only make us feel helpless and bitter. When we feel discomfort in our lives, many times that is a cue that it’s time to change something. Sometimes, going through a hurtful experience allows us to find out how much inner strength we really have. If you read a successful person’s backstory, many times their lives were marred with pain and rejection, and it seemed the odds were stacked against them, yet they found their inner strength and found they could overcome the worst of what life had thrown their way. Healing after trauma doesn’t mean you go back to who you were. It means you become someone you have never been – someone stronger, someone wiser and someone empathetic to the plight of others. Someone willing to reach out and help others find their way too. Many times it’s the survivors who are the ones who mobilize and volunteer in communities and affect the change that is needed, so that maybe someone else won’t have to go through the same things alone. If you have been hurt by sexual assault or domestic violence, or any other trauma, don’t wait for the person who hurt you to come back and undo that hurt. It won’t happen. It’s up to you to reach out and seek help to heal so that your life will not stay at a standstill filled with pain, anger and hurt. Instead, you can thrive and flourish and have the life you want. Briana completed her story with this powerful quote: “Life hurts us all in different ways, but it is how we respond — and who we become — that determines whether a trauma becomes a tragedy, or the beginning of the story of how the victim became the hero.” If you need help moving forward after trauma from sexual assault or domestic violence, and are ready to work to become the hero to your own story, we are here for you. You may reach Crisis Services of North Alabama Jackson County office at 256.574.5826. We also have a 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000 where there’s always someone with whom you can talk. Our services are free to Jackson County residents. Our advocates are waiting.

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