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Survivors: Are You Ready to Start Helping?

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Survivors of abuse make amazing volunteers, mentors, and helpers for others who are going through similar situations. We want you to be a part of tackling the monster that hurt you in the first place. It can be healing for you and those around you. What makes a survivor such a huge asset to the cause?

  1. Your passion! You know first hand the damage abuse does, and you have energy and fire inside you to help others. You can’t manufacture or teach that!
  2. Other survivors might trust you before they trust a professional helper. You have the battle scars to prove that you know what another survivor is talking about. Although, helping professionals such as myself are a lot of times vital to the healing process, sometimes it takes a while for someone to warm up to us.
  3. If you have healed from your abuse, you have important knowledge about coping with life after abuse that will be helpful to others.

So have you really healed? How do you know? While healing is really a lifelong process, there is a point where you are probably ready to start working with others. Some survivors feel ready to jump in and help others maybe a little too soon. It’s important to make sure you have helped yourself before you go and help others. Just like airline’s ask you in the safety announcements to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others, it’s the same in life too. You won’t be a good helper if you are still hurting. Here are a few things to think about.

  1. Can you remember your abuse without extremely painful emotions? Avoidance is one of the biggest red flags that you have not healed yet. If you have thought to yourself, “I don’t need to think about that”, or “I’ve pushed that to the back of my mind and I’m doing great”, be prepared to experience some negative trauma symptoms in the future. Research tells us that traumatic memories come back to haunt you if you do not do the work and face them. This may mean going to counseling and working through it with a professional, or it might be just telling your story to the important people in your life. On the other hand, maybe when you recall the memory, you break down into uncontrollable tears or become fearful. You might be triggered by other survivor’s stories and have this same response. This could be hurtful to both you and the people you are trying to help.
  2. Are you struggling with basic finances? I’m not asking for you to be completely debt free and have a huge savings account. However, it’s going to be hard for you to focus on helping others if you are struggling with making your rent, putting food on the table, or keeping the lights on. Check out Maslow’s hierarchy of needs if you are having a hard time reaching your full potential. Maybe you are missing something, and it all starts with the basics you need to survive.
  3. Have you been angry at God for a long time? Our God is a big God, and he can handle your anger. The Bible has a variety of people who were angry at God, including Jonah and Job. Sometimes anger is part of any relationship and it may play a role in your walk with God. However, if you have been feeling anger for a very long time, maybe even years, you may have some unhealthy beliefs or thoughts about God that need to be worked through. I suggest finding a spiritual mentor, a good small group, or speaking with a pastor.
  4. Do you have some really unhealthy coping skills? Trauma survivors are susceptible to using substances or other unhealthy ways of escaping the pain of abuse. This may seem obvious, but you won’t be helpful to other people if you are under the influence. Ask yourself these three questions. Have I started needing more of my substance in order to have the same effect? Have I started using my substance in the morning when I wake up? Have important people in my life started to tell me that I have a problem? If you said yes to any of the above, it may be time to get some help yourself. Check out a local AA or NA meeting. I promise it is painless to attend, and people there will care about you. Other unhealthy coping could be excessive gambling, promiscuity, compulsive shopping, or overeating. Be on the lookout for any unhealthy behaviors that you could be using to escape from reality in order to avoid pain.

If you found yourself saying yes to any of the above, you might not be ready to jump head first into helping with other survivors. You may still play a role in the organization; however, it may be a better idea for you to start with fundraising, social media, or any other job that’s not directly related to survivors. Later on you will be ready to have direct contact with other survivors. Just give it a little time. Maybe you already knew before reading this that you still have a lot of healing to do. Here are some resources in the River Valley and Central Arkansas that can help.

  • Counseling Associates Inc.
    110 Skyline Drive
    Russellville, AR 72801
    (479) 968-1298
  • Professional Christian Counseling
    814 West B Street
    Russellville, Arkansas, AR 72801
    (479) 858-7111
  • Healing Path Counseling
    1422 Caldwell St.
    Conway, AR 72034
    (502) 327- 7224
  • Conway Counseling and Wellness Center
    855 S German Ln #1,
    Conway, AR 72034
    (501) 358-6606
Laura BrinkerSurvivors: Are You Ready to Start Helping?

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