Lots of people don’t realize just how common trauma is? Trauma can come from many sources, including childhood trauma, bullying, traumatic grief, community or disaster-based trauma, and physical or sexual abuse. Regardless of the source, though, trauma can have long-lasting effects and be difficult to overcome.
If your partner has experienced trauma, it’s important to be supportive and help them heal. This is especially true for people who have experienced domestic violence, as they may understandably have some triggers that might show up in future romantic relationships.
Being patient is key, but that’s not the only thing you can do to help your partner heal from trauma. Here are some tips.
How Can Trauma Impact Your Relationship?
The first step in being a supportive partner is understanding how trauma might impact your relationship. Understanding the history and context of the trauma, including the source, is important. Healing from child abuse is quite different than healing after a severe car accident or sexual assault.
Knowing the context can help you understand what might trigger negative feelings associated with the trauma. Do your best to avoid causing these triggers with your behavior, as you could make things worse without meaning to.
Patience is key because your partner might exhibit behavior that you find frustrating or sad. For instance, people with a history of trauma often have difficulty trusting people, accepting love, and dealing with conflict. They might “put up walls” and emotionally distance, making it difficult for your relationship to progress.
These are just some of the ways trauma can impact your relationship. While you shouldn’t stay in a bad relationship because your partner has a traumatic past, it is definitely worth making an effort for a relationship you believe in. People can heal!
Help Your Partner Seek Effective Counseling
Understand that there’s only so much you can do to help your partner heal. They will probably need help from a mental health expert, who can guide them through the healing process and help them feel safer and more secure.
If your partner does not currently work with a mental health expert to address their trauma, encourage them to do so. If they are comfortable with the idea, help them to find the right mental health professional. It can be challenging to find the right provider, so a good way to help is to do some research on different options.
Never try to deal with a dangerous or crisis situation yourself. If you or your partner is in immediate danger, don’t hesitate to call your family members or hotline appropriate to the situation, which helps survivors and victims.
Educate Yourself as an Advocate and Supporter
Being an advocate and supporter of a partner with a traumatic past involves respect, listening, and educating yourself. If your partner wants to talk about their experience, be there for them and listen actively. If they don’t want to talk about it, respect that. Trauma is an individual experience, and it’s essential to start by understanding what your partner needs from you the most. Don’t make assumptions!
You should also be proactive in educating yourself. There are countless resources out there for learning more about how trauma affects people and how best to support a loved one with a history of trauma. Read, learn, and advocate as much as you can!
Once you know more about trauma, share that knowledge (while respecting your partner’s privacy, of course). Many people don’t know anything about trauma and could benefit from education from an advocate who has done the research. If you want to take things even further, consider volunteering with an organization that advocates for trauma victims.
Take Care of Yourself
It’s a beautiful thing to help your partner heal from trauma. But you also need to make sure you’re not damaging your own mental health in the process. Take the time for self-care and realize when trauma is affecting your relationship and well-being.
If you find that you’re not happy in the relationship, be honest and kind. Everyone deserves respect, and you should remain supportive of your partner’s healing process, even if you ultimately decide you’re not right for each other.