Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Helping Your Child Recover

Here are some ways parents can help their abused children during their recovery process:

  • Buy an extra large stuffed animal to live on the couch that your child can cuddle with whenever they want.
  • Color pictures together.
  • Keep your normal routines as much as possible.
  • Never complain about taking them to counseling.
  • Keep discipline as normal as possible.
  • Exercise together as a family to reduce stress.
  • Be willing to listen.
  • Don't pull away if the kid wants to be held or hugged or to sit on your lap more than usual. Healthy touch is reassuring and healing.
  • Expect and accept any temporary regressions in behavior.
  • Let the child initiate conversations as they want.
  • Keep the child safe from situations that might tempt them to hurt others. Such as no sleepovers for awhile if the child was sexually abused.
  • Don't talk about the abuse with others on the phone or in person within their hearing.
  • If the child realizes you've told their teacher or their grandparents about the abuse, acknowledge that you did tell this trusted person who cares about them--but give reassurance that you aren't running around telling everyone.
  • Respect your child's boundaries of when to talk and when not to.
  • Trust your child's play--even if it is strange for awhile. As long as they aren't hurting themselves or others playing things out is a child's way of processing.
  • If you have a child who is cutting themselves.Get them to counseling and do what you can to limit their opportunities. Cutting can be a way of blocking unwanted feelings and memories.
  • If your child isn't sleeping, try increasing the time for the bedtime routine. Don't get angry if your child moves around the house at night trying to feel safe. Give your child reassurance and ask a counselor for suggestions.
  • If your adolescent or teen starts doing harmful behaviors in an attempt to cope, set limits to keep them safe and give consequences as needed, but be careful not to heap on shame. Show compassion for their stress and redirect them toward healthier and more helpful ways of dealing with their feelings.
  • Acknowledge your child's courage.
  • Don't ignore behavior that is crying out for attention. Re-direct and reassure as makes sense.
  • Get support for yourself too. It is stressful to walk through recovery from abuse. If you're well-supported you'll be able to give more to your child.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Dozen Tips for Finding Safe People

Once you are free from an abusive relationship, how do you find safe people to develop meaningful relationships with? You know what you don't like—abuse. But you also have a history of being attracted to abusers. You are probably skilled in hypervigilance but it hasn't kept you out of harm's way. So what do you do?

1.     Be patient with yourself as you learn. Accept that having been abused changes you and it will take time to learn to avoid abusers and find nice people. Pray asking God to help you identify people that you can trust. Be willing to let go of relationships with people who use &/or abuse you or drag you down or restrict your freedom.

2.     Remember that things like charm, sense of humor, and being interesting are not traits that reveal what type of character the other has. They can be attractive, but they tell you nothing about the others behavior that will make a relationship positive or negative, safe or unsafe.

3.     Observe how a potential friend treats others—restaurant staff, grocery clerks, co-workers, former spouse, his or her children, pets, etc.

4.     Pay attention to your gut—rather than dismissing its warnings. If you feel internal alarms going off, then pay attention to them. There are tons of people out there, you don't have to try to force yourself to be comfortable with someone who continually worries or stresses you.

5.     Pay attention to how the other treats you. This doesn't mean whether they give great gifts or they show up frequently. How does this person interact with you? Do their words and their actions match? Ask God to help you clearly see the other person's character.

6.     Evaluate how you feel after spending time with this person. Do you feel uplifted or down? Do you feel better or worse about yourself? Do you feel drained? Are you confused? Do things seem like they are moving too fast?

7.     Don't dismiss the reputation of the potential friend. When someone doesn't have a very good reputation, there is normally a valid reason. If people give you warnings about this person, you need to listen and check things out more carefully.

8.     Focus on finding out about character traits that have a huge impact on relationships. Does he handle stress well? Does she say unkind things about others? Does he behave arrogantly or humbly? Does she manage her anger in a mature way? Does he keep his promises? Is she responsible with money? Is he honest and real? Is she above-average in selfishness? Is he inconsiderate? Is she demanding? Is he judgemental? Is she dishonest? Is he always in crisis?

9.     Would you be concerned if your sister or your child became friends with this person?

10.  Does everyone keep saying that you are such a positive influence on this person? (This might be code for this person is usually obnoxious, or dangerous, or irresponsible.)

11.  How does your potential friend respond to your feelings? Thoughts? Beliefs? Do you feel heard? Respected? Supported? Is he or she there for emotional support or are you always the one who is giving extra?

12.  When you state that you don't want to do something, does he listen or does he dismiss your objections? Does she respect your boundaries?

Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft