People who have never suffered from sexual assault don’t always have a realistic understanding of sexual abuse. Abusers aren’t just violent rapists you see on the news or serial killers on TV shows. Many of our abusers are in our group of friends or for some victims, their families. It’s not always as simple as it seems to break contact with an abuser, especially if you share a history or home with them. And telling someone who entrusts you with their story and pain to simply “break contact” can not only be unrealistic, but it can be dangerous.
In some cases of sexual assault or abuse, it’s insidious. The abuser may make the victim feel like it was their fault. They may tell them that they wanted it or that it was consensual. In some situations, the victim may even start to feel that they need to keep contact because they have spent weeks, months, or years convincing themselves that it wasn’t abuse. And why should you break contact with someone who “cares about you and would never hurt you?”
In situations of domestic violence and abuse, you can’t simply “just leave” or break contact. A high percentage of cases that involve long-term abuse in romantic relationships (and families) show that the abuser has power over the victim. Whether this is societal power or financial power, the victim or survivor may feel that they cannot leave because they fear for their lives.
Many times, you simply don’t want to draw more attention to yourself and what happened to you. You may have finally felt that you are over what happened or want to put it behind you. “However, if you feel that it is weighing on you to be in contact, you should try to figure out a safe way to do so.
One thing you might want to consider is the various ways you are connected to your abuser. If you are only connected online, it could be easy to block them on various social media sites and set it up so they cannot view your profiles or contact you. Don’t feel that you are alone in this – many people don’t delete their abusers from social media sites for a long time, but feel incredible relief when they do.
When you live in the same city/state as your abuser or are in regular contact, you may need to consider having a conversation with them if you feel that they would not lash out. If you want to do it in person, make sure you bring someone with you who can ensure nothing gets out of control. I personally recommend taking some time to consider what you want to say and write it down. You can choose whether or not you want to say it when the time comes, but it will likely help you to control the conversation.
The bottom line is how you feel and your personal safety. If you feel that it is taking a toll on you to continue to be in contact with your abuser, it may be time to change your situation.
If you are in a dangerous situation where you do not feel safe and need help, there are an enormous amount of resources out there, including WHW who helps with situations of sexual assault and domestic violence. It is important that you do what you feel is right for you, when you feel it is safe.