Do Those Who Have Been There Really Understand the Most?

Many abuse survivors report that the reason people belittle their feelings is because they haven’t been there, so they don’t understand. While it’s true we judge what we don’t understand, we also judge what we don’t want to remember or face as well.

I was once lurking in an online forum for sexual abuse survivors and one member had been saying she was raped and others victimized of the same crime were the most unsupportive. That did not come as a surprise to me.

I, too, have found that those who have been through what I have been through understand the least and that is because they might have chosen to suppress and block out their feelings as they are too hard to bear since they come from memories they are not able to handle yet. I, however, CAN handle my memories and my feelings and for those who are shut down, this is an alien concept. It is very hard to understand why anyone would want to face their own unhealed wounds for one who has chosen a different path.

To truly feel what another person is going through, we not only need to have been there, we need to have felt the feelings associated with the trauma as well before we ever begin to remotely understand what others are going through. If our feelings are shut down, we want them to STAY that way and for good reason. Other’s emotions only bring up our own we’re not ready to face yet. For those not ready to face their own demons, it can be traumatic to watch others grieving the loss of their innocence and childhood since those are the very feelings we fight with our lives to keep repressed. And if those that don’t get it are triggered enough, they might resort to minimizing, victim-blaming, and lecturing and basically making you feel worse, pressured under time-constraints to “move on” and most detrimentally, making you feel even more isolated.

If you really want unconditional acceptance and support, you can get help from other survivors of course, but those survivors need to understand emotion and most importantly, YOU.

I hope we all find that one friend who is strong enough to handle us at our most vulnerable moments, even if that person is an animal companion. Sometimes animals are the only ones capable of love when we need love the most.

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