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Do your coping skills make people think "You're not Really a Victim"?

Are your coping mechanisms making you less believable? Have you tried to tell people what happened to you only to be disbelieved? Does any of the following statements sound familiar?

If it was that bad, you could have just left!

I don't think you remember things correctly.

I doubt that's what actually happened.

If that actually happened, you would be ......

I think you are making this whole thing up!

You shouldn't try to hurt ______ just because you and ______ didn't work out it.

One that I was told recently was if I had really experienced everything I said, I would be more vulnerable or emotional telling my story. At the time that statement hurt but it also made me realize that I was still using a coping mechanism I started doing when I first became a victim. That is adapting an "it is what it is" /positive attitude. Other examples are giving a reason you deserved the abuse, or it could be finding the good in the situation.

Think of the phrase "When it was good it was so good". That also means when it was bad it was so bad, and we can't forget that. As a victim you can focus on the good because it helps you endure the bad, it gives you hope for something better or those good moments again. The coping skills you used could make you less believable to someone who has never been a victim themselves. I'll give you guys one of my personal examples of this.

I was raped for the first time by my boss when I was 15. This was after being groomed by him for a long time. His words haunted me for years after that first experience "You can't tell me you didn't want that" Those words made me think I did something to make him think I wanted that. I blamed myself and I couldn't just quit for many reasons I won't discuss here so the rapes kept happening for 8 months.

During that time there were really good moments. Moments that even now knowing how messed up that situation was and the mental damage that experience did, I can still look at as happy or even be grateful for. He taught me how to drive. His business at first provided the only real safe haven that I had from a controlling living environment. He taught me how to ride horses (something that I still love to this day). He taught me life lessons that help me in my everyday life even 20 years later. He helped me to be able to go to college (which ended up being the way out of the situation). Even though I should hate him I couldn't there was too much good.

People that have never experienced grooming, narcissistic abuse, sex trafficking or anything like this expects you to react how they believe they would in that same situation. Because I was grateful for some of the positive things, I wasn't believed at first. It was hard for people to understand that the coping skills used to get through the abuse don't just disappear when you finally get out of the situation. Those coping skills can last for years or even the rest of your life depending on the person and what mechanism you use.

If you find yourself in the situation of people not believing you or thinking you are embellishing the facts, please know that you are not alone. The coping mechanisms you adopted to survive your experience stay with you but that doesn't mean you lying. If you are dealing with the legal system, find yourself an advocate someone that will help you by explaining things in a way that the cops/DA/Lawyers can understand.

If you are dealing with family members try calming asking the persons How they think you should act? Or what it is exactly they think you should be doing? You can also state the situation that made it difficult for you to just leave an extreme example of this would be if you were lock in a room for ... days, months, years and were broken down mentally what would you do? A less extreme example would be If you had kids and nowhere safe to go with them what would you do? Sometimes making the person really think can make them more empathetic to your reactions and soften their approach on the situation.

Do not let other people's reaction's make you doubt yourself. Those coping skills made you stronger in the moments you needed them. They help you feel like you are protecting yourself. Please know that if they are unhealthy or if you want to these skills can be unlearned or are no longer done out of habit. Some skills that I have stopped doing is denying some of it happened or trying to completely forget parts, smoking, drinking, busyness to avoid dealing with the emotions, overthinking was a big one for me.

You are strong, you are resilient, you are a survivor, you have every right to feel the way you do and use the skills you needed to survive. Don't let other's make you feel less than who you really are!

What is your experience with coping? Do you have a preferred coping style? Do you have something you want to add or share? Please let us know in the comments!

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