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An Open Letter to Survivors of Abuse

Sometimes it’s all overwhelming. We’ve been through a lot, but we’re still standing here, and that’s no mean feat.

When you’ve lived through an abusive relationship, just making it through your day to day life can be exhausting. And terribly, hideously unfair. But you are so much stronger and so much braver than you think.

It’s not your fault.

You might have heard this one before. And let me guess, it didn’t really stop you from feeling strangely guilty. Especially when all those nasty people ask you, why didn’t you just leave?

But you are not ever to blame for your own abuse. Why would anyone think you chose to be hurt by someone you loved? Victim-blaming is gross. It’s normal to feel angry—REALLY angry. But if you can direct your anger outward, rather than inward, it will be easier to move on. You deserve to treat yourself with love and respect, not anger and hate.

You’re not defined by your past.

Even if you feel like you’ll never be normal again, trust that you’re healing. People tell us that our experiences make us stronger—which might make you want to roll your eyes, or possibly tear out all your hair. I don’t care about being stronger, I just want to stop feeling like this!

But you are not always going to feel like this, and each step towards healing will strengthen you. Sometimes it feels like we’ve made progress, and sometimes it feels like we’re sliding backwards, but we are moving forward. Even if it doesn’t always seem that way. Bad days and break downs are going to happen, but they’re going to get easier every time. Yes, you can’t change the past, but you can accept it and grow past it.

People won’t always understand.

And wow is it frustrating. If they’re not victim-blaming, they’re asking you why you can’t just get over it? Or accusing you of being dramatic or too sensitive. They scoff at the idea of safe spaces and trigger warnings, probably because they’ve never actually had to deal with anything this difficult in their own lives, and they mistake their good luck for strength. Why are other people so threatened by the fact that we have a right to heal?

Don’t let fools get you down. They’re not interested in trying to understand you, they’re interested in feeling superior.

But when you do find those wonderful, kind people who do understand you (and you will find them), they’ll give you so much love and support that you can look at all those puffed-up fools and laugh.

You’re doing better than you think.

If you got out of bed today and faced the world, you’re a stone cold badass, and don’t let anyone tell you any different. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s unfair. But look at you, you beautiful thing, you’re here and you’re alive and that’s something to celebrate. And it’s only going to get easier from here.