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Archive for December 9th, 2008

How do you decide who to tell about your history of child abuse? The best advice I have is to listen to your intuition. All of humanity is interconnected, so we have the ability to know intuitively who we can trust and who we can’t. Part of healing is finding that internal “voice” and following its guidance.

I have been healing long enough to feel comfortable with making comments in passing about having a difficult, or even abusive, childhood in pretty much any setting. If hearing something that basic about me turns another person off, then I am glad to learn that early on. I don’t want to invest one minute of my time with a person who cannot handle being around someone who had a difficult childhood.

Sometimes people intuitively know that I am safe to talk with about childhood trauma. If someone first confides in me that she was abused as a child, I will immediately say, “Me, too,” to reassure her that I get it. However, in most cases, I am the one “making the first move” when it comes to sharing my story.

I will not share my story with another person who has not confided something in me first. I have a list of personal things that sound like I am confiding that I really don’t care if other people know. That is usually enough to get the ball rolling. I am a good listener, so people with friend-potential generally wind up confiding in me about something. Once they do, I know that they are invested in our friendship. That is a prerequisite for me to getting into the details of my childhood.

If I am ready to dive into a more emotionally intimate level of friendship, I will mention little tidbits here and there. I then gauge the other person’s reaction. If she pulls away, then I know that person is not a friend. If she can handle it, then I might share a little here and there.

Eventually, I will tell the other person that I am comfortable with sharing my story if she wants to hear it. I always warn that my story is very difficult for others to hear. I only proceed if the other person really wants to hear it. If she does, then I dive it.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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