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How Can I Help My Girlfriend Move Past Her Abusive Past?

Aug 18, 2007
This isn't going to be easy, and it requires patience and an understanding that logic will play little or no part in how she feels about what happened to her. Are you committed enough to your relationship to be able to handle that? Are you committed enough to her to want to see this through, regardless how long it takes? The last thing she needs is to have someone tell her they'll help her through this, and then walk away when it seems as if it's taking longer than you thought. There's no time limited on healing this kind of hurt. So are you in the relationship for the long haul? If so, then here are some things you can do to help.

Encourage her to talk. She may want to talk about it. She may not. Don't put her under pressure. Wait until you have an unlimited amount of undisturbed time and ask her to tell you what she's thinking. Girls are deep and they think a lot more than they ever say. She may be ready to open up to you, or she may not trust the relationship enough. She may not even trust herself enough to deal with the emotion that talking about the issues will open up.

Realize that this is not going to be easy for her. She's not talking about the loss of a pet or even favorite relative. This is something that happened to her. Something where she wasn't in control of the situation, and at the moment, she's at least in control of what she does about -- even if it's not the best thing for her. Don't push her to talk. Just give her the opportunity when the time feels right.

Once she's talking -- listen! This is important. Talking may help her, but you interrupting and asking questions will stop her flow and could close her down again. Let her talk until she runs out of steam. Don't try to stop her tears, don't trying calming her down, if this has been bottled up inside her, it's going to be like releasing a safety valve once it does come out. Just be prepared to let her bring it out. You can make encouraging noises, or let her see that you're listening, you can even hold her hand but don't tell her to "shhhh everything's going to be ok now" because everything won't be ok until she gets this out into the open!

When the talking stops, then it's time to find out what she wants to do next. Does she need to be alone? Does she want to just snuggle up with you? Maybe she needs to sleep because she's emotionally drained. Follow her lead. Don't make her feel like an invalid or do anything that you wouldn't normally do. Don't judge her, and don't judge the situation. Just let her know that you love and support her -- and that you appreciate the fact that she trusts you enough to share this part of her past with you.

If she's not willing to talk about it, then you have to respect this. She won't be able to fully move on with her life until she lets go of the past, but until she's ready to do so, you can't make her. Use things like TV drama storylines or documentaries to make a non-judgmental statement in the hope of drawing her out. Once she starts, sit back and listen.

Once the past is all out in the open, don't bring it up again unless she wants to do so. This is her past, and she's going to be bruised not only by the abuse (physical, verbal or emotional) for the rest of her life, but with your help, the past will have less control on her present and she'll be able to move into a happier future.
About the Author
Jane Saeman runs a site called along with info on dating and relationship on her blog at at http://www.Hot-Firefighters.com/blog2
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