Friday, August 22, 2014


You'd think when one's been victimized by an abuser, you'd run a mile before getting involved with another abuser. Yet, time and again victims tell me they left one abuser only to fall for another. It's like victims have indelible signs printed on their foreheads saying "abuse me!" But we all know that's the last thing victims want or need. So why does it happen?

Some reasons come to mind immediately:

Victims don't feel they deserve better
Victims feel whatever happened to them was their fault
Victims are needy, desperate for love. As such, they are easy targets for abusers.
Victims often hate themselves so much they believe they should be punished.

All of those reasons scream of the insecurity the victim feels as a result of abuse. They feel so empty inside, they rush to fill the void. They are looking for confirmation that they are worthy of love.

This thought came to mind after I read the words below posted by a friend, Johnnie Leonard-Yaegel on Facebook. She was reflecting on how it felt to lose someone you love and why one shouldn't rush to find a new love:

"Filling the spot of someone you have lost to a break up, divorce or even death with anything or anyone else is not always healthy. When the body heals, it focuses on that wound till it is completely well again. It doesn't add another human to the body to heal. So many are in a hurry to fill a void. But a void is room to grow. Sometimes we are too quick to put something there that inevitably slows our growth." 

Her words struck me as being applicable to victims of abuse. Now, you might ask "What has that got to do with abuse victims? They aren't mourning the loss of someone they loved." To which I say 

"Really? I beg to differ"

Here's why: Abuse victims are indeed mourning the loss of someone they loved. That someone is themselves! When we are abused, especially as children, we lose ourselves. Some of us spend a lifetime trying to find ourselves again. We are drawn into relationships, some as harmful as the one we escaped, in our desperation to find that person we loved and lost: ourselves.  We hope that somehow the new person in our life will convince us we are worthy of their love and that through him or her, we can once again learn to love ourselves. Some of us find that person who can do that for us. I did. But sadly,  too many of us never do. We drift from one relationship to another, from one abuser to another, ever seeking confirmation that we are worthy of love. 

But as my friend states above: "A void is room to grow." If we immediately seek a new partner to fill that void, without giving ourselves time to heal, we might end up filling that void with more emptiness, more insecurity. So why rush? Slow down; take the time to heal; let the wound close. Slowing down will give us time to clear our heads, to step back and look objectively at that new person who's saying all the right things but possibly for the wrong reasons. 

Welcome the chance to be alone; to think for yourself; to not have to answer to someone else or do what that person tells you to. In that period of alone-ness, not to be confused with loneliness, you might find someone you can trust and love: yourself. Remember, as Whitney Houston sang, "Learning to love yourself is the greatest gift of all."

That, by the way, is the title and theme of my new memoir, a love story of rebirth and recovery after abuse. All being well, it'll be available from my website in late September/early October.