By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
This December, most of the quotes we're featuring from participants in our studies focus on the theme of the journey. The theme that overcoming an abusive relationship is a long and unpredictable journey is one we heard frequently from the survivors in our studies.
I've thought about this idea of the journey often, and it especially came to mind recently when the flurry of news stories came out about recent studies on the long-term health impact of domestic violence for survivors. These studies are very important, as they can help healthcare providers more accurately diagnose and treat health concerns. Likewise, they can empower survivors to seek treatment to address the physical and mental health consequences of the abuse they experienced.
At the same time, however, I think it's important that these findings are communicated in a way that doesn't increase the stigma that survivors of abuse already face. We know that many survivors of intimate partner violence face a myriad of challenges as they rebuild their lives and heal from the trauma of abuse. In addition to the physical health consequences, these may include post-traumatic stress and other mental health symptoms, safety risks, and economic and career challenges.
For a survivor--especially one who is considering leaving an abusive relationship or making some other big transition to move toward safety and positive, healthy relationships--these challenges can appear insurmountable.
That’s why the notion of a journey resonates so much with me, as well as with so many of the survivors who shared their stories with us. The first survivor we quoted this month said, “A day at a time is all it takes to go from victim to survivor.” And the participant we quoted yesterday said, “It became a very spiritual journey...Through this process I fortified my boundaries.”
We hope that there is hope conveyed in this theme of the journey. When recovering from an abusive relationship, survivors need not--and cannot--know that they’ve got every detail of the rest of their lives figured out to be able to move forward in their journeys. Often, it’s enough to know that this journey unfolds a day at a time, and sometimes, you even have to take it one second at a time.