Emerging from Violence: the struggle to feel free at last

People who struggle to come out of violence and, after much suffering, finally succeed to do so, do not always achieve a real sense of inner freedom. They tend to think that once free they will experience relief, happiness and peace. But after the initial euphoria – which is too short-lived to be truly enjoyed – dark thoughts and fear creep back. These people have to learn first of all to think differently, to make plans and believe they are capable of fulfilling them. For far too long they have lived with a sense of failure and defeat, endured verbal and physical abuse, as a result of which they have a hard time believing that they can pursue their plans and desires. Not to speak of the sense of inadequacy that crept in when they first started feeling that they deserved to be beaten and insulted. “It’s over now,” these people tell themselves, still finding it hard to believe that they no longer have to struggle and to fight for their needs to be met, that it is really over, and that they did not deserve all that cruel violence. For years they were told that they were a failure, stupid, useless, only to realize that those words were just meant to hit and sink them. Not to speak of the constant fear that followed these people wherever they went and whatever they did: they were afraid of being mocked, ignored, destroyed, beaten, crushed, isolated. What is absurd is that these people, who are now free, continue to feel threatened, like when they feared unmotivated outbursts and public humiliation in front of strangers, or even gestures that would make them feel in danger. This newly found freedom is still muffled by the anxiety and dread that have permeated their life. Some traumas cannot be erased simply by escaping from the prison of violence. People who have suffered trauma never forget the past; they fear the present, are unable to see the future, overcome their insecurities and nagging doubts.

After violence, you can continue to do yourself harm …

Until the day you decide to free yourself from the shackles of the past and find the courage to live. That is the most beautiful and truly courageous moment: when you are ready to pick up the pieces and begin again with what is left of yourself. And the more you do this the more you rediscover parts that were forgotten, like after an earthquake. You are surprised to discover how strong you are, how determined, full of unexpected ideas that are feasible and concrete. It is exciting to really try out now projects, no longer listening to the old voice that used to spew insults and threats, afraid of your gifts, of coming to terms with yourself, of admitting you are a better person. You feel inspired and proud when you realize that the power you have can only be wielded by you, not by those who act cruelly, deluding themselves that they have absolute supremacy over others. It feels good to take care of yourself and to bring a sparkle back into your eyes, which had grown dull and constantly melancholic.

Then comes the day when all these people who were prisoners of the anxiety caused by past violence finally realize that their spirit was never trapped and that you are always free inside and can be forever free.

Dr Stefania Jade Trucchi