Helping those who have undergone abuse

How does it matter if that someone is a sister or stranger. No matter who they are human beings go through all these, but not much is spoken in open and that is why when something like this is heard, it feels uncomfortable. It seems more agonising just because of the closeness (attachment) to that person. One may not feel the same emotions when we hear a stranger sharing such a trauma just because we feel no belonging to that person or due to lack of the feeling of oneness with all. Even if a stranger, he or she is still related to someone. One who feels connected to all feels the tangible pain of all but at the same time the one who is connected with all, somehow begins developing empathy and not sympathy, courage and not weakness, discernment and not judgment, honesty and not biasedness.

All this just means to say that one needs to guide, help, support without any personal spillage of emotions. The one who shares has certainly not shared for any other purpose other than support. Ascertain as to what kind of support they need and give it fully without personal emotions. Anger and sadness are natural but not required here. It is important to know that the one who shares such details are courageous enough to share it with the courageous, seeking courage, so being overpowered by weakness is certainly not they expect from you or else they would not have shared it itself. In such a case, handle it how you would have handled if a stranger had shared you this.

I keep personally receiving many such message where people share it with more than just an expectation for an answer, because most of them know the answer, but what they actually look forward to is someone with whom they can share and unburden it. What hurts the victim the most is being bottled up after the trauma which only adds up to the trauma. I always try to give whatever best advice I can without getting too involved in the incident itself. Today, after receiving this message, decided to share my own personal experience in this. 

Would like to share that when I was once in Palampur, Himachal, for a retreat, I had spent almost a month there and knowingly or unknowingly became friends with many people who had come there for either leisure or retreat or rejuvenation. Every evening would be like satsangs when a small group would sit chatting with each other late until night. i would either be with the children playing hide-and-seek or carrom boards or with the youngsters playing table tennis or with the elderly having fun, laughter and even dancing with them. It was a kind of life that i was fortunate to witness with, right from the children to elders.

In the late evenings, we would all gather up together for a chit-chat or antakshri. Before realizing, the group chats started becoming more like satsangs. I would be sitting there with everyone sipping warm milk and talking like I do now in Live videos now. ?

Soon i realized it was bothersome as every now and then there would be someone to talk to and meditation was getting affected. But what i was equally surprised was that people had so much to say, after so much of suppression! They just poured their hearts out.

One evening a girl walked to me and said she wants to talk over a walk. Not wanting to take her actual name, i will call her Reema here. i had noticed that Reema was a very silent girl, always aloof and never mingled with anyone, except an aunty whom she was okay with. But she would speak to me and play table tennis with me.

I could not deny because i was already walking back to my room when i met her. So, walking, she began saying she terribly needs help with her depression. I sensed it would not be quite alright alone there and asked if we could call in aunty also. She agreed and soon i called  aunty/ We both were listening to this young girl, who mentioned she was heavily on psychiatric drugs. I could relate that well seeing that Reema was almost always kind of drowsy, now realized it was due to those heavy prescriptions!. She was talking more of her mental illness and her depserate need to get out of depression. i could see that she was beating around the bush and it just took a few minutes  of reassurance before she just opened up straight that she was raped….. by someone whom she trusted as her boyfriend. I wasn’t really perturbed though it did shake me a little, because I was expecting something like abuse to come out but not something traumatic as that. Reema paused and waited for me to react, probably with a shock or disbelief or pity. When she saw none of these, she understood she was to continue. I didn’t speak but just keenly listened to her, for I knew that her biggest pain was her inability to share it with anyone and she was almost like a volcano. She did explode like a volcano, and i encouraged her to. She had no tears, but she lashed out her hatred towards that person. It was anger, disgust and hate. I added few questions here and there just to puncture the whole pus and poison out of her, and she went on for about an hour. Once she emptied herself thoroughly, she felt tired and dizzy. At that moment I began telling her whatever I had to tell. I knew that a larger percentage of her healing was not in my advice but in her releasing that pent up negative energy that she had been holding on for years. She had psychologically taken on a deep feeling of being dirty and developed a deep disgust and a hatred towards men. That is why she never talked with anyone there.  Talking about forgiveness and moving on was a challenge i thought, but she understood it well. But she wasn’t able to forgive him and she cursed him and hated him. i asked her to do all that she felt like including punching him in her mind right there and then as though he was right in front there. Well, that is part of the release process where you vent out the withheld energies. She did all that. We spoke for sometime and then i began teaching her meditation.  Her mind was so unstable and panicky that she could not sit still for a while and frantically she popped pills even during the meditation. i felt bad as to what a toll it had taken on her life. She had expected me to pity over her major life incident but I gave no more importance to that incident than a mere “accident” and a lesson of life. i reiterated to her how incidents of life are not always punishments, if we refuse to see it that way. On asking her if she sensed any lesson in that incident, she did confess that she had learnt a lot from it and learnt it well. That is when, i told her that the chapter must now close and it would be only then that she would get rid of all those psychiatric drugs that she popped all the time. Meditation would help her heal her internal traumas and deep wounds.

Over the next few days, i met Reema a couple of times at the dinner or park, but we never talked on that subject. Over the next few days she began changing and she began opening up. She began opening up with others too! Whenever we met, I spoke only something worth talking, about the goodness of life. She somehow had sunken so much and got meddled up with medications, that she was visibly finding it difficult to cope with. She told me that she had decreased her pills but i could see how hard it was for her, though she was struggling to. i was happy that she had hope, to be alright and get life straightened up.

On the day I was to leave, the others were yet to stay. i didn’t see Reema that day since morning. By noon. I was busy saying goodbyes to all the beautiful souls that i had met there and lived like a big family for close to a month.  When i asked for Reema, someone told that she had gone for her usual walk down the valley roads. So not hoping to see her, I sat in the car of a dear friend who had helped me with a drop to the busstand.

As we drove down the silent valley, i suddenly  spotted a girl walking on the opposite side of the road and she was frantically waving to me. Her sharp eyes had spotted me in the car. As soon as the car stopped I got out to say goodbye to her. Reema came running and hugged me thanking for everything. I was more than happy to see her happy. She was soon preparing for a new life and I wished her all the best and waved her goodbye as I sat back in the car much to see my dear confused friend, whom I just told she was the only one I missed to say goodbye back there. i couldn’t tell him everything due to lack of time. Today if he would be reading this he would know the real story.

But anyways,I share this to convey that the healing is not really in the incidents but in how they are held onto the whole life. It is no doubt most painful and traumatic for one to go under any kind of abuse. But more trauma is when there is noone to speak up to or share it with, because we live in an orthodox world, in a society where when you expect support, you can be rather dismissed, judged, blamed, ridiculed, sympathised or even punished if you open up. The trauma is not really in the incident nor lack of advice but it is the lack of ears that can listen to without prejudice or weakness. If the listener allows to be overcome by one’s own weaknesses of emotions, it helps neither the speaker nor the listener. Also, it really doesn’t matter if one is related to the abused or not. A human is a human. All feel same kind of pain, close ones or distant. In this real incident that i shared here, Reema and me were not only complete strangers then but even now for I don’t even know where she is or where she lived, etc nor have seen or heard her after that. Me being a stranger did not stop for that encounter to happen, nor did she having friends and family could have been of help to her, despite the so-called relations. It is because the “own” are often prejudiced in such matters because of obvious reasons. But i must say that if someone known and close is sharing, then  it is with great courage and trust. So, listening maturely first is most important so as to not let the one sharing feel even more guilty after sharing it. They must feel that it is okay to be done with whatever happened and take a completely new look over it and work towards that new change. No amount of past stories is really going to help except that it allows one to offload the burden. But then the one giving advice must ensure that the burden is not put back on them nor they unknowingly pick it up again.

So, hope this answers the question of he one who asked me this and also others who can relate to such.



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