How to Date Someone Who Was in an Abusive Relationship

If you are looking to date someone who has been in an abusive relationship you need to show that you are a person they can trust. Be a good listener and ask how you can support them. Assure them they are not alone and that you are there to help.

Be There for Them

Being in an abusive relationship takes a toll on a person. But that doesn’t mean they are hopeless. One of the best ways to deal with such abuse is through the support of a new partner. But how does one be that partner for someone else, though? Sometimes you don’t even need words (or at least not many comments) to be there for someone. Many people share that telling their story to someone else lessens the weight of isolation, secrecy, and self-blame. Listening is in and of itself an act of love. Think about a time when you felt vulnerable or faced a crisis, and think of what helped you the most. Chances are not a specific conversation you had, but it was the knowledge and comfort that the person or people you told were there for you, believed in you, we’re on your side, and we’re committed to supporting you through a hard time.

Below are some helpful phrases you can use to show you care.

● “I’m so sorry this happened to you.”
● “I believe you.”
● “This is not your fault.”
● “You’re not alone.  I’m here for you, and I’m glad you told me.”

Often, a survivor may feel like what happened to them is their fault. We are bombarded with victim-blaming myths and attitudes in our society, and they can sink in…deeply. But no action excuses a person hurting someone else. Violence and abuse are never the victim’s fault. That responsibility and shame lie with the perpetrator. It can be helpful to communicate that gently and repeatedly.

● “Nothing you did or could’ve done differently makes this your fault.”
● “The responsibility is on the person who hurt you.”
● “No one ever has the right to hurt you.”
● “I promise, you didn’t ask for this.”
● “I know that it can feel like you did something wrong, but you didn’t.”

Ask How You Can Support Them

Ask what more you can do to help. Violence and abuse are about power and control. Survivors need to regain their sense of personal power. Instead of pushing someone into taking actions for which they are not ready, ask how you can support them. And remember to always keep an open heart.

The healing journey can be a long one. It can be full of many challenging but sometimes joyful and liberating conversations. It can make a big difference for a survivor to know you are there to support them along the way. However, be sure to take care of yourself.

Don’t Forget to Care for Yourself as Well

There is a limit to what we can take in and process. The stories of someone else’s hardships related to a traumatic event can impact or become a part of us. This experience of second-hand trauma—often called vicarious trauma—is a human response to face-to-face with the reality of trauma and the difficulties of the human experience.

It’s essential to care for yourself as you support another person. You cannot be your best self in your supportive role if you find yourself too tired to listen with care and compassion or you are overfilled with your own emotions in response to another’s trauma. These feelings are valid. Take some time after a conversation to enjoy the outdoors or do a healthy activity that makes you feel good as a way of re-centering yourself.

Remember, you can be your best self for someone else when you give yourself the space to honor your own needs. At the end of the day. there’s only so much you can do for someone who is a victim of abuse. But that little bit can go a long way. The most important thing of all is communicating with your partner and encouraging them to express their feelings and needs.