Do you know that one of the greatest challenges in our society we don’t often talk about, is abuse? Did you know that every minute, 20 people get physically abused by an intimate partner in the US alone? Whether you were the victim of emotional, physical or sexual abuse, whether you were molested as a child or tormented as an adult, the emotional and psychological wounds that have been inflicted on you may have become a constant reminder of the traumas you went through. Despite your efforts to move beyond the past, the abuse may have become your identity, as you see yourself either as a victim or as a survivor of the terrible things that were done to you.
Having worked with numerous clients on healing abuse, I found that the most difficult, and at the same time, the most empowering way to overcome the traumas of the past, is to reclaim the wholeness that appeared to be shattered and stolen.
Your wholeness is a state of harmony and well-being, which gives you the capacity to accept and transcend all your experiences, positive and negative. Reclaiming your wholeness doesn’t mean you forget about what happened to you. Yet, rather than remaining stuck and attached to the victimization you went through, you are transmuting the pain others cause you as catalysts to learn to love, accept and appreciate yourself more.
While reclaiming your wholeness is a journey, I found that just by considering the following three steps, you can be well on your way to de-identify yourself from the past.
1. Acknowledge that you were victimized.
One of the most common initial reactions to being abused is confusion. It appears at first incomprehensible that somebody else could treat you in such cruel and callous ways. Why did those whom you should have been able to trust, hurt or betray you? What did you do wrong that led them to punish or take advantage of you? To make sense of the trauma, you may have downplayed what happened, justified the behavior of the abuser or even blamed yourself. Additional guilt and shame made it even more difficult for you to face the truth, that you were the victim of a terrible injustice. However, once you accept, with a healthy dose of self-compassion, that you weren’t responsible for being preyed on and abused, that it wasn’t your fault, you can start taking responsibility for how you choose to overcome, heal and grow beyond the past.
2. Choose that you are not a victim.
Although you were victimized doesn’t mean that you need to identify yourself with somebody’s wrong doing. Your worthiness isn’t defined by other people’s dysfunctions. This doesn’t mean that you should just glance over the traumatic events that had burdened you for a long time. But as you are working on healing the abuse, you are no longer just stuck in the question of why did this happen to me? – but also ask yourself – how despite and because of what happened, can I become an even stronger, happier and more purposeful human being?
3. Take your power back.
Once you have chosen to disentangle from the wrong-doings of the perpetrator and to remember and discover the strengths, gifts and qualities that make you a unique and valuable individual, it is important to treat yourself as such. After being traumatized, many people continue to treat themselves with the same sense of disregard and unkindness they had experienced at the hand of the abuser. They stop caring about their health, careers or social life, and search for ways to either numb out or to get instant gratification by often self-negating means, such alcohol, drugs and random, meaningless relationships. While this is a form of survival mode, which deserves understanding and compassion, it is also one of the most tragic ways abuse victims continue to live in the shadow of their abuser, even if this person is no longer present in their lives.
One crucial way to take your power back is by assuming that no matter what occurred to you, your purity, innocence and goodness are still intact. Why? Because you are searching for healing and wholeness, and did not give into the temptation to make yourself feel better by becoming as callous and uncaring as the person who caused you such horrible pain. Which is why you are bigger, better and brighter than the darkness of the abuser. Every day you commit to taking care of yourself, with kindness and compassion, you are taking your power back from the person who tried to make you feel powerless and insignificant. And you are reinforcing the undeniable truth, that your health and well-being matter more than what others tried to do to you.
Listen to Empowerment Radio this Thursday, October 3rd at 9AM PT / Noon ET, and learn more ways to de-identify from trauma and abuse and reclaim your wholeness within. If you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment below. Or, if you wish you remain private, feel free to reach out via email.