By Heather Teater, See the Triumph Contributor
Anyone who has faced grief and loss can probably relate to my experience of losing my grandmother, one of the most important people in my life. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her for some reason or another, and she passed away almost three years ago. And I still cry – not as frequently or as long, but it happens. Yet, about a week after my grandmother’s death, the cards, hugs, and questions from my support system quickly dwindled off. Nobody asks how I am doing or how I am getting along without my grandmother to call when something exciting happens or when I simply have a question of which spice to use in one of her recipes. The fact is, other people’s lives move on and they forget about your pain when the initial shock is over. It’s not that people stop caring, they’ve just stopped thinking about it.
I imagine that survivors of domestic violence have a similar experience after sharing their stories with others. At first, those with whom they have shared ask them questions, provide solutions, check in on them from time-to-time, and let them know that they are there whenever necessary – and that’s awesome. But, eventually, the fervor dies down and those who were so involved start to wait longer before checking in or forget to ask about the relationship because nothing has changed for so long and there are other things to talk about. Or if the violent relationship has ended and the survivor seems to be moving on, sometimes it feels like an unnecessary conversation. But the truth is, the memory of the domestic violence, as well as some of the more tangible consequences, such as having to start a new life from scratch without many financial resources, can continue to haunt survivors for longer than many of us might expect.
Though this feels simple compared to some of the amazing blog posts and resources regarding supporting survivors that have been written and shared this summer, it is an important reminder: Survivors of domestic violence need support long after the initial shock has worn off and you’ve stopped thinking about their suffering. Don’t forget to continue to check in and ask how you can support those you know who are experiencing, or have experienced, DV. Long after the violent relationship has ended survivors continue to need support in various ways, whether it be a shoulder to cry on when a memory is triggered or someone to provide a practical need. You might be surprised by what you can still do for someone who was victimized years ago if you just remember to ask.