hey there beautiful people! i want to start off by stating this post may be triggering for some. please do not feel like you must read the entire thing if you start to feel triggered. the topic is going to be to be handling trauma in romantic relationships. if this is a tough topic for you, please know that i am here for you. if you need to ever chat, i am here, and i mean that. i personally know what it’s like to try to navigate new relationships after experiencing trauma.
i will only be speaking from my own personal experiences, what i’ve experienced may differ from the next person in multiple ways.
which speaking of, that’s a good thing to take note of. there are many similarities in how people handle trauma, but there are also many differences. in my opinion, there is no right or wrong way to survive after trauma occurs. i believe people do their best just to stay alive after a lot of traumas.
if you are close to me you might know some of my history, if not, i am here to share with you. i am pretty vulnerable and open when speaking about the life i’ve lived and the things i’ve been through.
in 2013, the week of my 26th birthday, i was drugged and sexually assaulted, raped. that night changed my life forever.
i was taken to the hospital for a rape kit. something i would never wish on anyone in this world. it was brutal and i felt traumatized all over again. i did not receive much empathy from many of the people who are in a position and career to help with this exact type of thing. my eyes were opened to the many reasons why a lot of people don’t report being raped or sexually assaulted. i often think that if i could go back in time, would i still go to the hospital? i am not sure. although so much went wrong through that experience, it eventually led me to the therapist i would end up seeing for years.
after my rape, i isolated myself from as many people as possible, as often as possible. i had spurts where being around people was fine, and then other times, i couldn’t get alone quick enough. i was only able to take one week off of work after my assault. then i ended up working multiple jobs to support myself, and i’ll never forget the day i was at work (retail at the time), and it was the holidays so we had a huge sale going on. our tiny little store ended up crowded, i am talking almost elbow to elbow. it was entirely too much for me and it ended up sending me into a full blown panic attack and meltdown.
i would say it took me a good year to year and a half to finally feel like i could somewhat breathe again. before then, i leaned on vodka.. for breakfast, lunch and dinner. but once i started to feel like i was going to survive this, i realized for myself that sharing would help me to heal and grow. in 2015 i told a small group i was in at the time about what happened to me. then in august 2015 i spoke at an event that supported the organization where i was receiving my therapy.
that is just a small portion of my backstory surrounding what happened to me. one day maybe i’ll be able to sum it all up into one post, but that time is not now.
before my boyfriend i’m currently dating, i was single for almost 6 years. whenever people would ask why i was single, i would just cringe. because, for one, in general asking someone why they’re single isn’t only invasive, but also annoying. then add the trauma i experienced to that and i would just be screaming in my head. i needed to be single, then wanted to be single, then was ready to start trying to date, but there weren’t many people i was ever interested in enough to have as my boyfriend.
when i met my current boyfriend, i immediately felt something i never had before. there was this spark, and as cliché as that sounds, it is my truth. our first kiss was about 4 minutes into meeting. and man was it a great kiss.
even after seeing him the first few up i did not think he was who i’d end up dating. why? because we were both having fun in our single lives and i honestly think i just figured this wasn’t going to become more because it’d be too easy.
but 3 weeks into meeting, he became my boyfriend. we had cooked together, took a dance class together, and then drove to atlanta together all within a 21 day span.
the night before we left for atlanta i stayed at his (ty’s) place because we were leaving around 5am. we were up talking about anything and nothing when we should have been sleeping when i blurted out “what are we doing?”. this was far from my norm. i didn’t ask any man that because i didn’t really care what we were doing. but this man, i wanted to be his. i wanted more. and that was it. we became boyfriend and girlfriend. my life with him has been nothing short of incredible.
although our relationship is amazing to me, it didn’t come without tough conversations. after sealing our relationship with a kiss, i had to tell him. i told him that i had been raped and some of the ways it changed who i was and the life i’ve lived since. i told him i wanted him to know because i trust him, and because dating someone with this kind of trauma is different than dating someone who hasn’t been through it. i was received with compassion and empathy.
unfortunately, not everyone is met with this kind of grace when trying to navigate dating and their trauma(s).
i have heard from multiple people who have been told “well i didn’t do this to you, so i shouldn’t be paying for it.” and other asinine comments. to me, these statements are nothing but selfish, and they will not help build a bridge toward the person you supposedly care about.
now, i will say, obviously (although apparently not so obvious) if someone has not had their own trauma then it can be difficult to experience someone else’s in a relationship. the term “second victim” is one i heard last year in counseling and i had never even thought about it like that. it makes sense to me though.
however, it should be common sense that the best way to try to understand someone, is to give them room for all of themselves, not just the sparkly parts. if someone is going to be in a committed relationship with another person then it is only fair to accept very part of who they are, and what they’ve been through.
no one asks to receive a trauma. no one wants the scars that can’t be physically seen. no one wants to feel all of the emotions that come along with trauma, only to be met with more trauma by others not accepting them and realizing that this is already so hard.
i remember going to therapy and seeing all of these pamphlets that i could give to others that is supposed to to teach them how to word their speech when speaking to a victim of violence, how to handle supporting me. i browsed over those papers, but never took them home.
i do not think it should be the responsibility of the victim|survivor to educate others. would it help? of course the answer is probably yes. do i try to educate others, absolutely. i mean, here i am writing about it. but this is by choice, not demand. just because i am able to gain healing through sharing my life with the world, does not mean it is for everyone. i believe survivors should be able to heal and deal in their own way. i have always been a lover of writing and words, so this is not only to help end stigmas and educate, but it also provides healing to my wounds.
everyone i know is perfectly capable of picking up a book, googling, asking others, and so many other ways to learn what victims of violence go through. i do wish more people would educate themselves. it is disheartening to me that sometimes it feels like even when i do try to help, it falls on deaf ears or shoulders that fall flat.
when you respect and love someone, it is absolutely your responsibility to listen to them without judgement. when someone tells you that you have hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you did not. you do not get to only love the pretty parts of someone you are trying to build a life with. accepting your partner will not always be easy, and someone with trauma(s) will need you to broaden your mind and have good listening ears.
but, when you do choose to love someone wholeheartedly and let them know you accept every bit of them even through their trauma, you will get to see how badass we really are. we are resilient, beautiful, worthy, compassionate, empathetic, brave, incredibly strong, and you get the gift of having someone who has already fought through hell to be here. remember that.
if you have experienced trauma, please know, this does not make you any less of a person. you are enough. you are perfect. you deserve the world and someone to help you unload whatever baggage you might be holding onto.