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“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!

Image: Project Inspired

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4 Comments

  1. L.Taylor

    Posted by L.Taylor on July 3, 2014 at 21:14

    I don’t know how much good my story will or won’t be for anybody, but I think I have a fairly unique situation.. My last is one of not necessarily abuse, I think. I don’t know what to call it really.. But I discovered at around 5th grade that something was happening that I didn’t like. There was a man who I looked at like a grandfather because I didn’t have an actual grandparent near me at the time. Every time I saw him (which was often considering we were at the same church, he and his wife babysat us on many occasions, etc) he’d very inappropriately touch me. I was oblivious as a little child because for all I knew that was perfectly normal. When I finally told my mom in 5th grade that I didn’t like it we were both crying at my realization. After about 3 months it became a memory that I buried as deep down as possible because I no longer had to see this man. He was taken to court by another mother and he wasn’t legally around children anymore. Little did I know until I started dating as a Sophomore, he had a far greater impact than I ever recognized.

    I realized with my boyfriend at the time that I had a paralyzing fear of even potentially vulnerable situations. To put it bluntly, being alone with him, kissing him, anything caused this terrible panic in me. The poor guy was kind enough, but I couldn’t handle it, so I found an excuse and broke up with him.

    I lived with this fear at it’s peak now because suddenly I was aware of guys and aware of my panic. Every situation of being in public put me on edge, if I found myself making a grocery run alone (I live in a little town that doesn’t have any major crime) I’d practically run through the store and to my car. It was intolerable. I didn’t know what to do. After that initial talk, my mom and I didn’t mention it anymore like we both wanted to leave it in the past.

    First of all, not dealing with something of that magnitude will eat you away from the inside out. If you’ve never dealt with a constant state of fear, it’s exhausting.

    Here’s where for me it becomes fairly unique. I started taking a Jiu Jitsu class back in December. It became my therapy and healing more than anything. It forced me to be on close contact with many people, but it also let me have some power and I learned my own strength. Through this class, I met another guy.

    As I got to know him, this guy helped me out a lot. Not only did he start to teach me more Jiu Jitsu, he gave me a peace of mind. Together, by his advice, we went to my youth pastor and had him not only pray over us together, but to help me with my fear.

    I can’t say whether or not dating is right timing for you, but for me it was my saving grace. God sent me this man to help heal me.

  2. Project Inspired

    Posted by Christiangirl4God on June 18, 2014 at 00:07

    I used to have a boyfriend. We dated for about eight months before the breast and butt grabbing started. Then at the beginning of the next school year, he would ask me for hand jobs and I would do it because I felt threatened. I felt like I couldn’t say no. he was extremely abusive and manipulative. This went on for almost a year! There is this guy that really likes me now, but I haven’t told him that I’ve been sexually abused and harassed. I’m a little hesitant to tell him. I am really depressed about this. I have thought about ending my life because of the pain that this had caused me. 🙁 please help! I would really love to talk to someone who was been through this with a guy.

  3. Project Inspired

    Posted by Christiangirl4God on June 17, 2014 at 15:54

    I have been sexually abused and harassed as well. There is this guy that loves me but I haven’t told him that I’ve been abused. I don’t know how he will react. He is a Christian, and so am I.

  4. godlovesme316

    Posted by godlovesme316 on May 10, 2014 at 20:11

    i was abused during my teen-age years…my dad was angry most of the time….he’d walked away from the church around the middle of my fifth grade yr….:'( in my elementary school years, i was known as the smiling, laughing giddy little girl….but all that changed….i became very bitter towards dad, God, and at myself….i didn’t know it but i was depressed. i no longer laughed the way i used to…my laugh was dry and dead….i didn’t smile the way i used to….my smile was plastered on my face….i could tell you my whole story…but it would take forever. if not for my mom, i would not be here….i would be dead…because of one incident that dad butted in whilst mom was dealing with me…he strangled to the point i could barely breathe….yes…CPS was contacted, but no action was done….the only reason they found out was through my HS, from a class that we had to take cornell notes on…Pay It Forward…i felt like that little boy…i cried….:'( it is no fun being abused………sophomore yr…second semester, i became happy, joyful, even excited for something…but i didn;t know how or why….then in the summer we moved to the city i live in now…..then first day of school..met a boy and locked eyes with him…..i had died during the summer (died to the world) wasn’t even looking for love….but it found me….the following semester that same boy and i were assigned next to each other…..and then he told me that he had cousin who went to he HS i had left….i was shocked…unbelieving…but that was true, he did have a cousin…i saw his pic in the yrbk…lol and the strangest part is…..he made me laugh. not the fake, dead and dry laugh i was accustomed to…..but a real, genuine, full-of-life, joyful, happiness laugh….i began to smile again…the way i used to…..it is soo strange how life can bring you back to the old days…..a few wks ago….i made up a little quote: One never knows what one misses until someone brings them to that old place……:'( and i just cried at that…..anyway….thanks for this…<3 <3