As I’m starting my four book, the theme of protection comes up several times. Any one who has experienced any type of trauma knows that protection is one of our first priorities. I believe it is something that survivors of sexual abuse rarely let loose.

First of all, physical protection is crucial in how a safe a survivor may feel in a situation. For myself, I have thought very little of my own physical protection. My abuse was not forced, so I feel much different about my own physical protection than others. From some of the stories that others have shared with me, they cannot go to sleep without barring a door or other entrance securely. My heart definitely goes out to all of those survivors.

However, I do feel that emotional protection is an area in which I have struggled with a lot. My first defense is an emotional wall. To keep everyone out was a very good defense mechanism for a while. But I used that as my only means of protection, and that was not a good idea for my emotional state. As I’ve learned in therapy, I feel I’m making better decisions on who I allow into my life to see the hurts and pains, but also the goofy and silly parts of me. I’ve also learned that I can share certain parts of my life without having to expect anything back from someone else. That has been a very freeing part of my emotional recovery. I used to believe that in order to make a deep and solid connection with someone, I would have to give up a dark secret or a painful memory in order for them to do the same in return. Although that can be a bonus in a relationship, I’ve learned that’s not what binds a friendship together.

I would like to encourage other survivors to learn how to take down their emotional walls but also know that it’s alright to have them there for a while. Just don’t allow that to be the gatekeeper of how you develop friendships. Also, for those of you who read this who know a survivor, just be present with them. It’s the best gift you can give us.

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