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Dating After Abuse: Yes! It Is Possible!

Michelle is a self-love and wellness coach on her personal healing journey. She empowers others through her experiences.

Make sure you are ready to date

When I say ready, I mean you have faced the abuse, you have accepted that it happened, you have forgiven the abuser (not for them but for you!), you have vowed to not let it define you, and have made a commitment to embracing the idea of new love.

This is not a time to rush. If it takes 6 months cool, and if it takes 5 years that's cool too. You don't want to enter dating prematurely because you will inevitably be overwhelmed by triggers and traumatic memories. You will struggle in making clear decisions for yourself. It would also be unfair for the other person who could be ready for a relationship.

While you are healing, you will be consumed by emotions, maybe nightmares, anger, a strong sense of judgment towards the entire male gender, you will be fragile, insecure, and unstable. A healthy relationship cannot be founded on any of these foundations and I promise you - healing will never be found under someone else.

Dating when you are ready prevents you from feeling frustrated by any failures or rejections. It prevents you from making decisions based on ego or unhealthy indulgences. It prevents you from encountering triggers and being defeated by them. It also allows you to see clearer and choose partners that your hurt self may not choose. It allows you to re-evaluate your values and love goals.

The dating world can be a battlefield. Make sure you are ready to go to "war" and survive it.

Facing the fears of intimacy

This is going to sound weird but I didn't feel this type of fear right after the abuse. Once the relationship ended, I was very much drowning in depression and a lack of self-love. During the time that I was single, I was engaging in many sexual connections trying to find that emotional satisfaction I was craving. I needed to feel loved and in my mind, the only way to feel loved was through sex. Well, that was the lesson I had learnt in my abusive relationship.

The fear didn't present itself until I started my healing journey - 5 years after my sexually abusive relationship. When I started healing, it forced me to take a real look at my past relationships. I realized something. I had never truly felt safe and it had only gotten worse since the abuse. Every one of my intimate connections was navigated with an armour suit. I had loved and been loved in survival mode. That was a scary revelation. I didn't - I couldn't - trust anyone who claimed that they loved me or cared about me. Merely the thought of being intimate with another person was enough to trigger the deep-seated fear within my soul. I was scared of being hurt again. I was scared of being disrespected, forced, and manipulated as I had been in the past. I feared men and what they could be capable of. The worst fear was the fear of not being able to protect myself. I felt fragile.

I tried to face my fears by socializing and meeting men well into my healing journey when I felt a little stronger mentally. I figured that the only way to get past my fears would be to put myself out there and take a chance. I got online and started chatting but I could never get myself to take the next step: meeting face to face. I felt safer on my own.

What if I can't say no.

What if they won't leave.

What if they manipulate me.

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What if they trick me with their charm.

I had so many what-ifs swirling around in my head.

One day, the thoughts were heavy. I had met up with someone but the moment we cuddled, my entire body shook. I physically shook in my boots. I didn't understand why. I thought that my anxiety was just out of control and I was letting my fears consume me. All he had done was be nice to me. Helpful. He had listened. He hadn't judged. He was kind. Why was I feeling this scared?

I didn't trust myself.

Not only did I struggle to trust him, but I also didn't trust myself. I didn't believe that I was strong enough to walk away if I had to. To defend myself. To say no. To stay true to myself. I viewed myself as weak. Damaged. Broken. I realized that I was so scared because I truly believed that if a man wanted to, he'd have his way with me and I couldn't do a thing about it.

Wrong!

You have to trust yourself

Dating is already hard. Dating after abuse can be downright re-traumatizing. Trusting yourself is crucial here.

In abusive relationships, we are made to feel like we aren't enough. Not beautiful enough; strong enough; smart enough; capable enough; and wise enough. We are told that we don't matter. Not always in words but in their mistreatment. We are shown that what we feel is irrelevant. What we say gets ignored. What we want or don't want is nonexistent. We are consistently told that we are exaggerating, we are making it up, or we should get over it. We are literally taught to not trust ourselves - only them.

The truth is - we could NEVER trust them and SHOULD HAVE trusted ourselves the entire time.

Take back your power xo

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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Michelle Brady

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