My heart sank as I read a recent article on http://www.nj.com related to the murder of 30-year old, Ruth Reyes Severino and her two children from Salem, New Jersey. The news of this untimely death at the hands of her abusive spouse and the Valentine’s Day tradition of chocolate, cards, and flowers can remind us that this time of year isn’t so “rosy” for everyone.
The work I do often puts me in direct contact with women who are recovering from broken relationships as they long to make a new life for themselves despite the shame and turmoil of their past.
It’s not always an easy journey, but “redemption” of what has been lost is achievable. Below are a few things to remember about “rebuilding” one’s life after trauma – a wound of the heart after having experienced/witnessed a deeply painful or distressful event.
- Find “safe spaces” to voice the pain of your past. Talking through the difficult things with a trusted friend, counselor, Pastor, or support group can be helpful. Be sure that such resources can provide what you need (good listening, informative, non-judgemental, etc.) while doing your research.
- Don’t be afraid to intentionally grieve your losses. This is sometimes difficult for people as cultural beliefs about mourning, crying, and lamenting are seen as signs of weakness or unnecessary complaining.
- Take small risks. Add new activities and pursuits as you are led. Join a gym. Enroll in a class. Plan a day trip or extended vacation. Treating oneself to a solo dinner or movie is not such a bad idea, especially when friends are not available.
- Remove yourself from unsafe environments when necessary. As in the case of Ruth Reyes Severino, some situations are more dangerous than others. A quick exit plan may be needed in order to protect the livelihood of those experiencing abuse. Staying with relatives or seeking help from a local shelter, police department, or crisis line may prove beneficial to those who are victimized.