Social Alienation
Because of their abuse experiences, most adult survivors feel stigmatized and experience people as dangerous and not to be trusted. Attending parties or other social gatherings can evoke anxiety, insecurities and concerns over not being "good enough." Fear of rejection is also a common concern for survivors. And, because they were usually harmed by adults whom they trusted, survivors tend to carry their fear of being harmed by others into the present.

Many survivors end up living in isolation because it feels safer and less threatening to them. The role of the recluse, employed during childhood to avoid the abuse, becomes in adult life a means of protecting oneself against hurt. Sometimes the threat is real; other times it is imagined. When survivors do venture out into the world and attempt to establish contact with others, they may be tremendously sensitive about how they are treated. Survivors may experience joking or teasing intended as lighthearted banter appropriate to the social situation as critical or hostile and at their expense.

Much of survivors' difficulties in social situations have to do with never having learned how to communicate. Others may have ignored or invalidated survivors' childhood opinions and perceptions, and left them wondering how to relate to people. If you expect rejection, criticism and humiliation, it is hard to learn to speak with conviction, listen with interest and telegraph your receptivity to others via body language and non-verbal cues.

Go to journal questions for social alienation

Previous Manual Page | Print This Page | Next Manual Page

Survivor to Thriver, Page 55
© 2007 THE MORRIS CENTER, Revised 11/06