After suffering an abusive relationship or sexual trauma, it takes tremendous courage to date. And it can be even more difficult to accept intimacy from a good person.
However, once you know what to look for in terms of roadblocks, the path to love becomes much easier.
Below are three basic steps to help victims heal and find love once again.
1. Find a therapist.
Start your journey of healing with a trained professional. People beginning to date following abuse may have lowered standards. They may be more accepting of bad behavior in dating relationships.
Another common reaction to trauma is to test boundaries or seek high-drama relationships in order to feel intensity or strong feelings. A trained therapist can help identify and heal destructive dating patterns so that these types of relationships are no longer attractive.
2. Practice saying no every day.
It can be difficult to establish boundaries in everyday life after surviving abuse or trauma. You may fear rejection, even from friends and family, or worry that you risk angering others if you say no. But nothing is more powerful than to say no to someone you love, experience queasiness, and realize that your friendship or dating relationship has survived.
Saying no is a great test that the relationships you are forming with other people are healthy and well-balanced. No is not rejection. It is insight into who you are. A good friend or lover will respect “no.” Even if it is “no, I do not like that restaurant,” start telling people who you are today.
3. Reciprocate to build trust.
Reciprocation is the safe way to let go of fear and build trust in a relationship without being vulnerable. He or she does something nice, you do something nice back. He or she opens up about something personal, you open up about something personal. Great relationships are built over time where trust is developed by continuous positive interactions.
By slowly opening up to your partner, you can get a better sense of how you feel when you are around him or her. When you are aware of your feelings and acting in accordance with your values, you naturally develop healthy relationships.