“Am I Ready to Move Forward in a Relationship After an Abusive Past?”

     I’ve been getting to know someone over the past few months, and we’re both at an age where relationships tend to be more serious than just for fun. We’ve gone through a lot of the same things, and I care for him deeply; however, it’s because we’ve gone through a lot of the same things that I’m unsure if we should pursue a relationship.

    I grew up mostly without a father, and he grew up mostly without a mother, and we both have wounds from this, and I’m afraid that we’re just using each other to try fill them. And in the past, before Christ, we both delt with it in different ways. He would find someone and cling to them, while I would have a new person every week. I’ve been in a relationship where someone was co-dependent on me, and they attempted to control my life because they depended on me for their happiness, and it ended very badly. I’m afraid of this happening again.

    I’ve been raped, I’ve been abused verbally, emotionally, and physically. God has made great progress in healing me after these things, but they’re not completely gone. He’s seen me when an accidental touch set off a panic attack, he’s seen me sobbing during flashbacks, reliving those horrible moments. And despite all the vulnerability I feel safe with him, and I feel loved, and it’s so different from how I’ve felt with anyone else. I just don’t know if this is a false sense of security, I’ve been praying about it but my thoughts are clouded with my own emotions right now. I need time to process everything, and if you have any guidance you’d be willing to offer I would be so blessed to receive it.

    Hey, girl. Let me first say how sorry I am that you have been through such hard times. I’m so proud that you have found your strength in God, because He really is the only One who can help you overcome the pain of your past. Also, thank you for entrusting me with your question.

    When a past is filled with instability, pain and suffering, it’s hard to know whether you should share your future with someone with the same experiences. There are pros and cons. For example, there is a concern that if you and your spouse are both troubled and affected by a past, then how can one help the other in times of vulnerability? Are you strong enough to help him? Will he be strong enough to help you? But at the same time, if your spouse shares similar pain, then he can relate to your struggles and vice versa, right?

    Unfortunately, it’s hard to know which scenario will relate to your situation, and so I think you hit the nail on the head when you wrote that you need time. Time and God’s strength are the only things that can really help you and this guy. Time to process your emotions. And time to get to know this guy as you both heal individually and together. You really want to know that you two are right for each other in good times and in bad.

    But the more important relationship you should be focusing on is with the Almighty. God loves you more than you could possibly comprehend. Imagine that! Remember Jeremiah 29:11-13: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me; when you seek Me with all your heart.”

    We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we deal with it, right? And when we choose to veer from God’s expectations of us, it leads us away from His plan. But the great news is that God’s waiting for us to return to Him. “Then you will call upon Me,” He said. “And come and pray to Me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart.” And so, I would strongly suggest that you focus on strengthening your relationship with Him. Only when you “seek Him with all your heart” will you find peace.

    Healing can be found in God, because with Him all things are possible, right? And when the time comes, you will know. If you are questioning whether you are ready, then you can’t be. If you feel that your emotions are getting in the way, they may well be. You want to be healed before entering any relationship, so you can support each other. And when you eventually have children, you and he need to be a rock for them. You need to give to them what your parents didn’t give you…stability.

    And so this is what I think you should do:

    • Take your time. This is your future, and if you two are right for each other, time will tell.
    • Make a vow to abstain from intimacy until marriage. (From what you wrote, I’m assuming you’re already abstaining, but I just wanted to make sure). Why? Not only is this part of the Christian values that will bring you closer to Christ, but also it will allow you to focus on getting to really know this guy. I don’t know if you’re considering him for marriage, but if it’s serious, I’m hoping that means that you are.
    • Build your relationship with Christ, individually and together with your guy. He needs healing also, so until you’re both ready, you should stop focusing on your relationship and start focusing on God. You need to put Him above both of you. God is your strength.
    • Speak with your pastor or priest, individually, and then later together. He will have insight on how to deal with your past, your current emotions, your relationship and so on. He will also help you get closer to God.
    • Know that when the time is right, you will both know it. You won’t be clouded with doubt or emotions.
    • Finally, take a listen to this song. When I first read your question, I immediately thought about this song. Matthew West wrote it based on a story of a woman who was abused as a child. It’s such an amazing song and a great reminder that God has never and will never leave you. You are blessed, sweet girl. So, look to Him. And know also that you are in my prayers. Stay strong, stay encouraged and stay in touch! PI will always be here for you. God bless you!

    Good luck and God bless!

    Need some advice? Ask your relationship questions in the Ask Olivia Girl Talk forum or in the comments below and I might answer them in a future article!

    Ask Olivia
    Got a question about boys, your besties or God? I'm here to help! As the girl all my friends always came to for advice, I've turned my girl talk, level-headedness and love of Jesus into a job -- one I love because I was a teen not long ago, too! Click into Ask Olivia in our Girl Talk Forums to ask me a question!


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