Writing by Ece Kucuk. Illustration by Polly Burnay.
There comes a point in time when you’ve reached a clearing in your road to recovery and realise you can now look back at the trauma you suffered without reliving every single moment of pain and suffering. For people such as myself, who grew up in highly toxic environments and as victims and bystanders to domestic abuse, it can take an eternity to get to that point and even then, the demons manufactured from that desolate part of your life never really go away.
Instead, they continue to plague the dark recesses of your mind when you least expect it – the type of trauma that weasels its way back into forcing you to reminisce on memories you’ve boxed up in the attic a long time ago.
Of course, healing is a process where progress can vary so much from person to person and situation to situation. Time helps, as people are so quick to advise when someone admits that they are struggling, but the truth is, trauma has a lasting impact.
From anxiety to depression to PTSD to suicidal tendencies to survivor’s guilt to god knows what else, there is no telling the impact that something like domestic abuse can have on a person, especially if there are children involved.
No matter who you are or what age you are, domestic abuse becomes a negative and painful educational tool in life that reminds you what happens when you get too close and trust other people. Your ability to connect with others falters, relationships – romantic or otherwise – become a thing of the past and you can spend years hanging onto life with a single thread of sanity.
The worst part, albeit there are many, is the loneliness that comes with being too frightened to trust anyone or make any real connections. Although yearning for others to understand, you become physically unable to speak, to breathe, or take any chances with the energy you have left.
Finding a purpose in life becomes ever so important as it can mean the difference between fighting to survive or giving in and letting go.
But this process doesn’t just happen overnight, and no one should expect it to. Just because a victim is not in the hands of their abuser any longer, doesn’t erase the memories or the fear and it certainly does not erase the different mental illnesses that can arise from having lived through something as traumatic as abuse.
When I was younger, I watched my father walk away time and time again, leaving my family more shattered every time he came back in and went back out of our lives. Today, I am a survivor of domestic abuse – a girl with trust issues, depression, anxiety, and PTSD – trying to patch myself back up every single day. So if you know someone in your life that has been hurt by others, or if you ever meet someone who has, remember that not all wounds heal as well as we would like them to. Most of all, be kind. You never know what someone else has been through, and the road to recovery is paved with just as many good intentions as it is with mental illness and trauma.