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Things I Learned as a Spouse of a Survivor of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence




Many years ago, you couldn't have told me that I would write something like this. But here I am, a husband of a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence. During our time together, I've learned many valuable lessons about how to support my wife in her healing journey. To be honest with you, there were many times I failed, and many times I didn't understand what my spouse was going truly going through. But those moments of struggle were part of the process of understanding how to be an ally and provide support.

Being married to a survivor is not an easy feat. It's challenging beyond what you can imagine. Yet, it's also one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences that one could have. It's about being there for them, understanding their journey, and supporting them through it all. As a spouse of a survivor, I have learned a lot about myself, my wife, and the world we live in. Today, I want to share some of my experiences and lessons learned with you.

One important lesson I learned is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to supporting a survivor. Every person's experience is unique, and they may need different kinds of support at different times. I was able to be most helpful when I listened to my wife without judgment and offered emotional and practical support without pushing for specifics.

The first lesson is that listening is essential. Your spouse may not be ready to open up about the trauma they experienced at first, but it’s important to provide a safe and comfortable space for them to do so when they’re ready. Even if your spouse doesn't share details, it's important to let them know that you're there and that you care.

Another lesson I learned is that showing your support can take many forms. While it's important to provide emotional support, there are also practical ways to express your love and commitment. Simple gestures like bringing home their favorite snack or offering to do a chore they normally handle can go a long way. Sending encouraging texts, leaving love notes, and spending quality time together are also great ways to show support.

Displaying empathy is a vital key! Empathy is not something that we're born with. It's something that we learn along this journey of life. Living with a survivor has taught me how to empathize with people in ways that I never thought possible, especially with other survivors. It's about trying to understand the other person's pain, perspective, and experiences. It's also about being supportive without being judgmental and providing a safe space for them to express themselves.

Trauma doesn't define a person - One of the biggest lessons that I've learned is that trauma doesn't define a person. And it's important not to let it define them. Survivors have experienced some of the worst things that a person can go through, but they are much more than that. They have dreams, goals, passions, and aspirations like everyone else.

Healing is a journey, not a destination - Healing from sexual assault and domestic violence is not something that happens overnight. It's a process that involves many stages, and it's not linear. It involves lots of ups and downs, good days and bad days. As a partner, it's important to understand that healing is a journey, not a destination.

Self-care is essential! As a spouse of a survivor, it's important to look after yourself. This was a difficult lesson for me to learn. Personally, I dealt with secondhand trauma as a result of my wife's story. There is a saying that you can't pour from an empty cup. Looking after yourself isn't just essential for your own well-being, but it's also essential for the well-being of your partner. Self-care can come in many forms, from getting enough rest, exercising, and reading a book to spending time with friends and family. The point is to do something that relaxes and rejuvenates you.

Love is a powerful force that can overcome even the worst of circumstances. And it's the love that you have for your partner that will help you both get through the tough times. It's important to remember that love isn't just an emotion, it's an action. It's about supporting, caring, and respecting each other. And it's about being there for each other no matter what.

At the end of the day, being a spouse of a survivor is an incredibly rewarding experience. It's a journey that requires patience, empathy, and understanding. But along the way, I've also developed strength, resilience, and a deeper understanding of myself. And more importantly, I've learned how to be a better ally not only for my partner but for many other survivors in their healing journey. That's something that no one can take away from me.

It's not easy, but the lessons I learned have helped me become the best husband that I could be for my wife. Love is truly patience and does conquer all. It's the power of love and support that will help a survivor heal, grow, and live their best life. And it's our responsibility to make sure that they know they are not alone.

Everyone's journey and story is different, but know that you are not alone in this process. If you ever need help or support, don't hesitate to reach out to us at info@slidfnd.org.
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