But this moment is not forever. You have already taken the first steps towards the light. You have spoken up, called out the abuser, and begin to set your boundaries.
Friend, you wonder? Do I know you?
Yes, I know you. I also see you navigating the darkness and heaviness that threatens to engulf you. I want you to know that you are not alone. There is someone who understands you, loves you and holds space for you.
You wonder how all of it happened, and how you let it come to this. You keep thinking about the past. How did things come to this? What went wrong? Is it your fault?
You always said “Yes” to adjustment and compromise. Even when this meant saying “No” to whatever you believed in or desired. You denied yourself so much to keep the peace. It felt like walking on eggshells, but you kept doing it.
They told you that being a good person is to keep everyone happy. When things didn’t seem right, they said it was you, and not them. You kept trying to be good and do the right thing to protect the others and their honour.
You were gaslighted. You believed them when they told you it was you and not them. That it isn’t right to speak up. That there is a lot that one must bear, and that this is the way life is.
Today, as you try and work through your muddled up feelings, you feel guilty for all of these.
Don’t. Whatever happened was not your fault. You did nothing to deserve it. The fact that it happened is unfair and unjust, but there was nothing that you could have done differently.
What happened cannot diminish you, define you, or determine your future course.
Today, you feel as if you will always live under these shadows. Yes, the darkness around you makes you feel weary. But this moment is not forever. You have already taken the first steps towards the light. You have spoken up, called out the abuser and begin to set your boundaries. You have begun discovering your reservoir of inner strength; and finding the light within.
You are tired of offering explanations, even though you don’t really owe anyone any explanations.
Sometimes people won’t understand you. A few may judge you. Let them be. You don’t need validation from anyone.
People will bring you stories of other people who went through worse, or that time heals all wounds.
There is no degree to pain, suffering and trauma. Everyone responds to pain and abuse differently. What hurt you is big for you. No one else’s experience or perception of your experience can quantify your trauma. Only you know what your wounds feel like. You will know when you are healing when the pain is reducing. It can take time, but that is your process. It doesn’t have to follow a timeline decided by anyone.
You are unsure if you will have the strength to get through this. Of course, you feel nervous and confused. That is okay.
The pain that you have felt seems to become a physical and emotional part of you. You have lost some days or months, some opportunities, some occasions that would have become memories. You must allow yourself to feel this loss, and to grieve for it.
You must also trust yourself. Each little step that you take will become a leap of faith and will bring you more confidence. As you move forwards, the light within will illuminate your path. Slowly, but surely, you will reclaim your life.
You wonder if you shall ever heal. I can feel your despair. So much has happened that healing seems like a distant dream.
The bruises on your body have healed, and are no longer visible. That does not mean they were never there. Similarly, the bruises in your heart are not visible. That does not make them less painful, or easier to deal with.
Healing will not be fast, easy or linear. There will be moments of conflict, confusion and self-doubt.
There will be times when you feel stuck. That does not mean that healing is not happening. You will get past them.
Rage, numbness, anger, grief, sadness all will creep up when you feel you were getting better. Let them. They are valid. Allow yourself to feel the feeling, to be the emotion. That is also part of the healing.
Sometimes hope will come where you least expect it, and happiness where you never imagined. Be ready to receive them, so you know them when you meet them.
The No and the Yes: Say No to anything that does not serve you; that you are not comfortable with. Say yes to yourself and your needs.
Be good and do right: Shower yourself with the goodness that you always reserved for others. Be kind towards yourself and give yourself the love you deserve . Always do right by yourself. Never compromise on your identity or self-respect.
Believe: In yourself, in your worthiness; and that better times await you. Trust your inner voice and your intuition. This self-affirmation will continue to empower you. Don’t second guess yourself
Lastly, you, my friend, are brave, amazing and courageous. And you are not alone.
However improbable it may appear right now, the demons in your head will be laid to rest. And the hopes and dreams that are its rightful occupants will return….
A survivor of gender based trauma is affected in ways that go deep, and their worldview can get permanently damaged. It can be really crippling in their day to day life – whether in the personal or public sphere, and sending some comfort their way can help.
We at Women’s Web are collaborating with the Saahas App for Survivors of Gender Violence to reach out to women who need to be heard, and healing, as survivors of gender based violence. Letters to the survivor from our authors will be published on Women’s Web in the coming 10 days, and also on the Saahas website, in a series called “Dear Survivor”.
If you would like to participate, please upload your letter on your Women’s Web dashboard, and if chosen, it will be published.
Image source: Kevin Laminto on Unsplash
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