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importance of open communication with survivors and partners of survivors - surviving my past

Communication tips for partners of abuse survivors.

by Matt Pappas

As survivors in recovery, our healing journey is filled with many questions. Why do I feel this way, Why did this happen, and When will I ever start feeling better, just to name a few. Many times these questions can be overwhelming and frustrating to even think about, let alone work through.

It’s completely fine and expected, to not have all of the answers, especially early on in recovery, and there are some questions that may never have a complete answer, which again can be very frustrating. The key is, when working through all of these conundrums, to keep an open mind and to be patient with ourselves.

heather-tuba-guest-podcast-supporting-spouses-of-abuse-survivors

Heather Tuba

What about those who are on this journey with us? What questions can they ask that aren’t so daunting and disconcerting; questions that will open up the lines of communication and help keep them open? How should these questions be phrased so that aren’t invalidating or intimidating and give helpful responses that both of you can embrace?

Well, I’m glad you asked that, because my good friend and advocate, Heather Tuba, joined me on a recent podcast to discuss this very topic. In a recent blog post on her own site, 5 Questions to Ask the Partners of Child Abuse Survivors, she outlines easy ways to help get and stay on the same page with the survivor in your life.

Heather is the spouse of a childhood trauma survivor and uses her blog to help create resources for partners of abuse survivors. She’s also a returning guest blogger and podcaster here on SMP; be sure and check out her past work here on the blog.

Supporting partners, spouses, and friends play a very important role in a survivors’ healing journey. So often, survivors feel very isolated and alone; too ashamed to reach out for support or just simply aren’t sure how to do so. This is where having someone close and trustworthy alongside them on their journey can be very reassuring.

One of the difficult things for both the survivor and their supporter is keeping the lines of communication open all the time.¬†This doesn’t mean that you have to constantly analyze and talk about everything together every single second, because as we know, sometimes you just need to be silent and reflect, or just chill out and think about nothing to give your minds a break.

When the time does come to share though, asking the right questions and keeping an open mind is vital to the comfort and stability of the relationship and each individual.

These 5 questions that I discuss with Heather may seem very simplistic in nature, but sometimes we can overlook the mostopen communication between survivors and partners of abuse survivors - surviving my past obvious of questions because we think there has to be more under the surface. Asking questions like this accomplishes that very same goal in a very non-invasive and validating way for the survivor.

Asking noncomplicated, open-ended questions, that each work off of each other, gives both the survivor and their supporter a great way to get on the same page.

Sometimes as a result of asking questions, we find that it’s just not the right time to approach a particular subject, and that’s always okay. As survivors, we sometimes we just don’t know what we feel or how we feel or what we need, and simply expressing that reassures our supporter that we aren’t purposefully ignoring them or shutting them out. Rather we just need time to process a certain emotion or feeling, or perhaps we just need a break and some down time.

When the conversation does flow, the power of speaking to a trusted partner or friend builds confidence over time, increases self-esteem and empowers both the survivor and their partner to keep moving forward.

It’s my sincere desire that as you listen to this podcast and take in the information that Heather shares, you will feel validated, encouraged, and empowered, knowing that both you and the survivor in your life, are never alone. Please consider sharing it with someone who you feel might benefit from the information that Heather and I discuss.

If you would like more information on Heather’s work, including more resources for supporting partners of childhood trauma survivors, and a free copy of her new eBook, just head over HeatherTuba.com and be sure and follow her on Twitter.

-Matt

Pictures courtesy of Pixabay. Social Media images created by Matt Pappas. 

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