According to the Los Angeles Police Department, there are a multitude of reasons why a person would continue contact with their abuser. Abusers have effects on their victims and their are multitudes of reasons people choose to stay. Hidden Hurt reports that a victim of continued relationship abuse is assaulted on average 35 times before reporting it to anyone. At that point, it can be incredibly hard to walk away on a dime.
There’s also a passive form of “staying” or keeping contact with an abuser thanks to social media. Though victims don’t have to directly talk to their abuser, they still allow their abuser to be a part of their lives and news feeds. There are a multitude of reasons that a victim might keep their abuser on social media.
I lived in a great amount of fear for a long time that he was going to show up somewhere and I wouldn’t be prepared for it. I told myself that as long as I kept him on my page that I would know exactly where he was. Though in denial, I used this fear to perpetuate a growing toxic cycle. I’m not alone in that mentality.
Proof of Healing
Sometimes survivors feel as if they can “prove it” to their abuser that they are doing okay. Social media is all about sharing great things happening with your network. It was increasingly hard to remember that life without my abuser should have been just that. I wanted to show him that I was working hard, in school, laughing it up with my friends all the time. I wasn’t. I was still trying to heal and not doing a good job.
RAINN knows that 70% of abuse victims experience moderate to severe distress. This can include anxiety, PTSD, or flashbacks. It’s very easy to click the link of an abuser’s name and read through their feed. Look at their photos. Wonder if they think about the pain they caused. However, this kind of behavior (though often quick and silent) can only worsen these kinds of struggles. Creeping can trigger or continue flashbacks, which can elevate anxiety levels.
AVFTI is not here to promise everything will be okay the second you hit that “block” button. What we can do is provide you a place to connect with other survivors who may be struggling with the same problems you are. The digital world is a tricky place to live. We want you to be as healthy as possible.
If you’re struggling and would like to share your story, you can do so here.