1. Don’t trust anyone
In the beginning - when he first started to hurt me – I believed that I couldn’t trust anyone. I thought that since a person who had been trusted so much by everyone around me, could turn on me and hurt me the way he did… well, how could I trust anyone again?! I learnt from this by trusting people anyway. And accepting when they – occasionally – let me down.
2. Bad people exist in the world
I was brought up in a bubble. Wrapped in a ball of cotton wool. I didn’t realise that bad people existed in this world. I’d never met a bad person. I didn’t really watch TV shows or read articles in magazines that were about bad people and full of the bad things that they did. Looking back, I think that there wasn’t a lot in the media those days about abuse or anything like that. So when I found someone who could hurt me in the way that he did… Well, I was in shock the first few times he hurt me. I cope with this by remembering all the good people in my life.
3. You don’t always get what you deserve
It took me a long time to learn this lesson. I think I’m still learning, to be honest. For some time, I believed that I had done something to deserve the abuse. That meant I deserved to be raped. But really, no one deserves such a thing. And I might have tried my hardest, in recovery, to become a better person but bad things have still happened… I’ve learnt to cope with this by making my own positive opportunities and letting myself live out all of my dreams.
Again, this is something that I’m still learning… I’m still figuring out how to forgive someone who caused so much damage to my life. But at the same time – as I’m illustrating in this post – he brought good to it. Or at least, I found good from it. And how can you forgive someone for hurting you? But why wouldn’t you forgive someone who brought such important life lessons to your life?
I went through everything alone. By choice. Keeping the entirety of my abuse a secret meant that I had no one to lean on. No one to be supported by. I forced myself to learn how to be independent and to not only look out for myself but to teach myself how to cope. And although I taught myself negative coping strategies - where had I asked for help, I might not have developed these – I still did it myself. I took care of myself because one of the people who was meant to look after me, wasn’t. He was doing the exact opposite. I’ve learnt a balance between independence and admitting that you need another person’s support.
6. You can’t know everything about everyone
I thought that I knew who he was. I thought I knew what he wanted. The abuse showed me that no one can know everything about someone. It hurts to learn this. It provides you with a struggle to trust people – how can you truly trust someone that you don’t know? I’ve coped with this lesson by accepting this fact and building relationships anyway.
7. Keeping secrets can be dangerous
Not telling my loved ones about the abuse impacted on so many aspects of my life and I think one of the biggest was that it meant that I didn’t stop trusting people because of just his behaviour; but because of my own too. And sometimes that’s harder to accept and come to terms with. These days, I’m an open book! Especially where my blog and my mental health is concerned.
8. Telling lies can end relationships
A few of the people that were in my life around the time of the abuse knew I was lying when I kept telling them that everything was ‘ok.’ I think that eventually, their worry that something was happening to me, was replaced with anger that I didn’t trust them enough to tell them! Like my previous lesson, I’m an open book these days and ‘I couldn’t lie to save my life.’ I’m just too honest for my own good!
9. Abuse changes you as a person and this isn’t always a bad thing
Realising that you’ve changed is harder than actually changing. It’s easy to adapt to situations and mould yourself to fit in with scenarios; but it’s difficult once you realise that you have and that you must accept you have because it’s too late now – you’ve already become someone else. But is it really that you are someone else? Or is it that you’ve grown as a person and, inevitably, that growth has led to a change/changes.
10. Self-harm doesn’t help
I learnt this the hard way – by self-harming. And on difficult days, I’m still learning this. In some situations, it’s so easy to revert to previous coping mechanisms. But ultimately, self-harm – and overdosing – provides me with little relief or a positive outcome. I think that self-harming or attempting suicide is one of the hardest things to do in the world. A human’s instinct is self-preservation. It’s natural for you to want to save your life and your body. So to do something against this, takes a phenomenal amount of strength. I’ve only learnt this lesson by learning new coping skills like Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (which I talked about in a previous post) and grounding techniques.