by Alexis Donkin
Trust is hard for someone who has suffered abuse. Typically the abusive person is someone close – a family member, lover, or friend. This heightens feelings of betrayal. How could a person do this? How could they hurt me? If this person could do this, then anyone could.
And that is the problem. Anyone can hurt you. However, the opposite is also true – anyone can love you. If you don’t trust people, if you don’t let them in, they can’t hurt you. And of course, if they can’t hurt you, they also can’t love you because they will never get close enough to know you. In order to experience love, to experience healing, it is necessary to trust. And that requires making yourself vulnerable.
I found this to be the most difficult obstacle to healing after abuse.
While I have experienced many kinds of hurt in my life, there were two serious attacks that fundamentally damaged my ability to trust. When I was two, I was molested by a babysitter’s eight year-old stepson. In college, I was raped by a friend. In both cases, these individuals were not expected attackers. No one suspects children of raping other children, but they do. No one suspects a friend of rape. But of course, they do.
Yet out of all the children I encountered during childhood, there was only one boy who sexually abused me. Out of all the friends I have made through my life, only one raped me. And of all the people I have encountered during my time in the world, there were easily five times as many people who helped me. There were counselors. There were friends. There were family members. There were lovers. And most importantly, there was my husband.
All these people were worth trusting. They were worth opening up and sharing myself. And it was hard. For a long time, I was cold and reserved. I was hesitant to share myself with other people. I did not make close friends easily. I still don’t. However, the only way I found healing was through these people. By reaching out to counselors, friends, lovers, and family members I was able to heal. By telling my story in detail to my husband, I was able to reach levels of wholeness that before seemed impossible. Not only did I find healing, but I experienced personal growth, gained wisdom, and deepened my relationships with others.
The rewards for trusting far outweighed the possibility of pain. Even though I could have been hurt again, it was worth being vulnerable. By being vulnerable, I was able to heal. This meant I was able to live my life fully, to do things I never imagined.
The road to recovery after abuse is difficult. It is a process, and the path to trust requires work, both by the self and in community. At some point, a person has to decide if they will continue to be closed off from the world, or if they will open. While opening up to the world is scary, because of the possibility of hurt, there are exponentially greater rewards that are guaranteed. Trust is hard, but it is worth it.
Alexis Donkin lives in Southern California with her family and real life familiar. She has lived many places and studied many things. She paints, sings, and dances when she’s not writing or speaking. Buy a copy of THRIVE: HOW I BECAME A SUPERHERO, to read more about her personal journey. To go through her transformation process, pick up the journal guide, TRANSFORM TO THRIVE: 32 DAYS FROM VICTIM TO SUPERHERO. Be sure to connect with her and check out other books at http://alexisdonkin.com.