To the People With Abusive Parents Who Can't 'Just Go Home' During the Pandemic
To the young adults who’ve left abusive homes and are now facing a global pandemic:
I see you.
Even when there isn’t a pandemic, it’s so easy to feel like you weren’t properly prepared to enter this world as an adult. Abusive parents often don’t prepare their children to enter the real world as adults because part of the abuse is an attempt to keep them trapped. When crises (such as a global pandemic) arise, it’s even easier to feel like you weren’t prepared for this, like all of it is too much, like you just don’t know how to handle it.
Your feelings are valid. Whether you are one of the trauma survivors who feels unusually calm in the midst of chaos or you feel entirely overwhelmed and on the brink of spiraling, or anything in-between, your feelings are real and valid and understandable and perfectly OK. Your feelings are a response to the situation you are in, a situation that is far from anything that anyone would ever consider normal. They are not a sign of anything wrong with you.
A lot of complicated feelings can come up when something like this happens. You see posts on social media or hear from friends who have gone back home with their (healthy, supportive, and not abusive) parents, and it’s easy to feel conflicted: to know that your parents aren’t like your friends’ parents, to know that you can’t just go back home, but to wish so desperately that things were different and you could just run home at the first sign of trouble. You might even miss them, as much as you know they hurt you: that isn’t uncommon. You’re allowed to feel however you’re feeling right now, so give yourself the space you need to feel.
I want to remind you that any boundaries you have set are still valid. The pure fact that you survived the abuse tells me that you are so, incredibly strong. No matter how you feel, you are strong enough to survive this too.
You do not have to go back there if it makes you feel unsafe.
You do not have to contact them if it makes you feel unsafe.
You do not have to do anything that makes you feel unsafe.
The only thing you have to do is make sure that you have whatever it is that you need right now. If you need space, take it. If you need human contact, call a supportive friend. If you need coping skills, have at it. You owe it to yourself to take care of you right now, but you do not owe anything to them.
Remember that unlike how it may have been when you were growing up, this is one crisis you are not facing alone. Every human being on the planet is feeling this in one way or another right now. You are the opposite of in this alone. If you need something, please reach out – regardless of what it is. I promise, there are people out there who want to help.
We’re in this together. You’ve got this.
Keep fighting the good fight.
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GettyImages photo via VikiVector