Friday, June 19, 2015

"I Need to Find Safe People"

That's how his email began, and it ended with, "Who are they? How do I find them?"

Those of us in the healing process from sexual assault use the term safe. By that we mean those people who accept us as we are and make no effort to change us or correct our behavior.

Another way to look at it is to say that they don't give us advice unless we ask for it. And even if we ask for it, safe people hesitate. Sometimes when people ask, they really mean, "Help me find a person who will do the hard work for me."

The safest people I've met are those who have known failure, rejection, pain, and other hardships life throws at us—but they haven't given up. They still believe that we can triumph over tragedy and abandonment.

Those people have done the hard work on themselves—that's why they're safe. They're usually wise enough to know that they can't provide shortcuts and methods to jump over the pain.

But most of all, those safe people are willing to be by your side while you re-experience the pain.


Andrew J. Schmutzer said...

Some great observations on the "safe person." Their willingness (or not so!) to sit in the pain is beyond precious. My experience, however, is that most people resent the social change that the survivor brings to the relational ecosystem. Our society at large--including faith communities--tends to seek the "explanation" (what the survivor should have done better) that absolves the larger group and relieves them of the obligation to be "safe." Male victims trying to find their voice in this society has been one of the most discouraging realities for me. Please address that fact, sometime.

Cec Murphey said...

Good stuff, Andrew. Anyone else? I'll think more about this while I wait for responses. Cec

Mark Cooper said...

My safe people are those who accept me where I am. They have the patience to listen, even if they've heard the same things umpteen times before.

But they also give gentle suggestions when appropriate. If they see me heading towards a danger zone, they will be bold to confront me. If they disagree with me, they will let me know that as well, while still extending their acceptance.

And although they do not demand or impose that I change, the very example of their lives draws me to desire and seek for myself better than what I've embraced before.

They are not perfect. I've been hurt when they've made mistakes in handling my pain. And I've done the same to them. But mutual willingness to address those times with forgiveness and restoration has served to strength the reality of their safeness.

My safe people make up a small group. There are three in my inner circle. There is only one who I have entrusted as the safest.

Roger Mann said...

My safe people have only been found online in a consistent basis. The real time people, even my wife all have trouble with my vulnerability and candor. All seem to want to fix so I will not be so troublesome and so we all can return to being happy and superficial.

I go to two sites daily, one is faith based and accepting, the other is secular and is specifically for male victims of childhood and adult assault. I have gained some very good close relationships in both of those that have allowed me to grow and thrive for which I am ever grateful. We help each other with few exceptions and I am lucky to have found such acceptance and support.

These men are safe for me. I can tell them anything and everything and you have no idea how much of a relief that has been to me. I have in turn learned to be there for them too which was also healing for me. Having someone safe that I can get all this stuff out of my head and heart and be validated has been enormously healing for me. I had no idea that keeping it all inside and secret was the worst thing I could do but it was and I never got better all the years I did that.

Safety is the paramount requirement and the definition you all give for defining a safe person is spot on. With out that very little progress can be made toward healing in my opinion. I have found that even counselors and therapist are sometimes not safe enough and that is sad and a waste of money for me. Both of these sites I go to are private and protected as much as the internet can be which helps a great deal. Shame is a killer for me and this has been a place where no one is shamed. Thanks for the post and comments.