Taking Care of Oneself
Taking care of oneself means exercising, eating healthy foods, eliminating addictions, getting a good night’s sleep, staying present in one’s body and letting go of abuse and abusive people. This also includes learning to set healthy boundaries, saying no when needed, and not feeling responsible for another person’s feelings or actions. This is a process that begins with self-love.
Substituting Self-Harm with Self-Care
For survivors in particular, self-injury can be a coping mechanism, a way to relieve stress and anxiety and a way of communicating when words are not available. The first step in eradicating self-harm is acknowledging the denial, becoming conscious of the self-harm and then removing the triggers.
The next step is to substitute self-harm with self-care. Once a survivor understands how and when this behavior occurs, it can then be talked about, drawn, sung or journal led, and then the pressure to act physically may well diminish.
Writing to vent anger can release repressed feelings and can also help a person to better understand what they are feeling at that given moment. Writing letters to the abusers, but not always sending them can help the survivor get in touch with the rage and why this happened to them. Another way of releasing anger is writing all the incidents of the abuse that happened, dealing with those feelings, and then with witnesses, burn the writings outdoors.
Reparenting and Learning to Love One’s Inner Child/Parts
Since survivors were never shown love growing up in an abusive home, it is important to establish a loving healthy relationship with one’s inner child/parts. Survivors treat themselves how they were treated in their family of origin. They have no idea what unconditional family love is and nothing to compare it to.
Viewing good parenting tapes such as John Bradshaw’s family tapes can help with this, as well as reading good children’s literature such as the Ramona series. This gives a better perspective of a normal family upbringing.
A survivor can learn to have fun in the playground, in the sand pit or on the swings which helps the little child/parts know they’re cared for and loved. Listening and supporting them establishes trust and lets them know they are not alone anymore and are loved.
Supportive Groups Led by Therapists
Learning to share in a supportive and non-threatening way in a group conducted by an experienced therapist who has worked with trauma, enables the survivor to learn trust, unconditional love, validation, and to know they are not alone.