Monday, April 4, 2016

Partners in Healing

Connection feels good.  Relationships are hard. How do we bridge the two when connection and relationship go hand in hand?  And even more, how do we bridge the two when either person in the relationship is a survivor of sexual abuse, relational trauma, poor familial boundaries, and/or severe neglect?  

Individuals who have survived relational abuse or trauma can feel threatened by close intimate relationships, or some aspect of them ~ be it emotional honesty, physical touch, sexual intimacy, financial dependency, or psychological closeness.  It makes perfect sense. The ways they were hurt in past abusive relationships cause them to feel triggered and overwhelmed in their current relationships, even when those relationships are safe ones.  

What about the partners in the relationship?  They are often confused and unsure of what is going wrong when the person they love so dearly, and who they know loves them too, at moments seems to disappear, pull back, or get angry, overwhelmed, and emotional.

It is very hard to get into the head, heart, and body of a survivor.  The blueprint for love, touch, sex, and intimacy is just different.  There can be an experiential divide that is as much neurophysiological as it is relational. There is a struggle for the partner to understand ~ even if sensitivity, compassion and a desire for empathy are strong. 

This being said, partners are in a way also a victim to the survivor’s abuse.  There is a natural parallel process that occurs.  The partner has similar reactions to the survivor: disbelief, horror, confusion, overwhelm, grief, anger, and hope that healing can occur.  

Just as the survivor needs safe places and safe people to process the trauma through with, so do their partners.  

“Some of the feelings that are natural for partners would be hurtful if expressed to the survivor. But suppressing their feelings is not healthy for partners either.  Partners need their own support network so they can get healthy or stay healthy and be supportive of the survivor’s recovery.”  - Ken Graber

Partners in Healing is a workshop created for partners with the intent to inform, support, and honor the unique and significant challenges that partners face in attending to the survivor, their relationship and themselves.  

This workshop will be held on Sunday, April 10, 2016 at Womencare Counseling Center. Partners of all genders and sexual orientations are welcome. For more information, go to

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