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Fish by Reef (c) Lynda Bernhardt

Many abuse survivors struggle with some form of dependence or compulsion. The following is a list of types of dependencies and compulsions. The list is by no means exhaustive:

Many people see these symptoms as the problem and try to treat them as such, but trying to heal a symptom without addressing the underlying problem is doomed to failure. While you might succeed in stopping a particular symptom (such as ceasing to drink alcohol), if you have not dealt with the underlying problem that is driving the symptom, you will develop another dependency or compulsion.

All of these symptoms are coping mechanisms that people use to avoid the underlying pain. Because childhood abuse is so incredibly painful, a high percentage of abuse survivors struggle with some form of dependence or compulsion. Many see the symptom as a problem but do not realize that the symptom is being driven by the underlying pain. Until you heal the pain, you are destined to return to some form of coping mechanism.

If you struggle with a dependence or compulsion, be sure to read through my series on Positive Coping Tools for Healing from Childhood Abuse. The more you can use those positive tools to manage your pain, the less reliant you will be on your dependence or compulsion.

Why do abuse survivors turn to these dependencies and compulsions? Because they work! Even though dependencies and compulsions are damaging in the long run, they effectively curb the emotional pain in the short run. When a person is in a lot of pain, he is generally not thinking about the long term consequences – He just wants the pain to end now!

You do not have to stay enslaved to a dependence or compulsion, even if you have leaned on it for most of your life. You can find freedom by healing the underlying pain that is driving the dependence or compulsion. If you no longer have pain to avoid, you will not need to use harmful ways to avoid pain.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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