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Support for Survivors

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Family and Friends


Many survivors find relationships challenging. Childhood trauma and abuse can damage relationships within families, especially if violence and abuse occurred within the family of origin. Some survivors are estranged from their families for this reason. Others grew up without removed from any family. Others were not believed or were blamed for what happened. 

Many survivors grew up without a strong bond to their caregiver/s or parents. This can make it hard to have close relationships of any sort, including friendships and intimate relationships. Childhood trauma doesn’t only affect family relationships. It can also affect those with partners and friends.  It can also affect parenting of their own children. 

Many survivors become fiercely independent, withdraw easily and avoid social contact. Others can tend to be clingy, sometimes demanding, disclose frequently, and sometimes to people who are not close or trustworthy, or become people pleasers. All of these ways of being make sense when someone experienced trauma in childhood. 

It is however possible to heal from childhood trauma, and develop mutually supportive and respectful relationships. Many survivors develop trusting connections over time.  This can start with a single relationship, sometimes with a counsellor or therapist. For others it might be with one friend who understands. This can help you develop a sense of safety in other relationships that you never thought possible. 

Relationships are very important for the process of recovery. It is important to understand why they can be challenging. The difficulties survivors have safety, trust, triggers, and strong emotions can challenge relationships.  It is important to understand them and know that they are normal biological responses to trauma. 

 It is possible to work through these issues over time, with the right support. Support from family and friends, who are emotionally available, when appropriate, can be an important part of this process.