After you go through something painful, people love to give you advice. And one of the most common pieces of advice is the infamous expression “just give it time.” With time, the hurt and suffering you are experiencing will gradually decrease until one day it’s gone for good. And yes, I know this phrase may hold true for various situations. But when it comes to recovering from an abusive relationship, it’s a different matter entirely.

An abusive relationship strips away everything you thought you knew about human nature and the world. With abuse, you experience someone you love transform into a monster before your eyes – they degrade you, hurt you, put you down, threaten you, over and over and over again. Experiencing this kind of trauma leaves a very real and very profound mark on a person. It makes you question your previous beliefs that people are genuinely good at heart and trustworthy. Your belief that “things will all work out in the end” is shattered. Suddenly, the world becomes a very dark, very cruel, and very frightening place.

Abuse leaves you blind sighted and raw. It makes you sadder and angrier than you ever thought you could feel. Life becomes a matter of who you were before the abuser and who you are now, after the abuse. And sometimes, who you were before the abuser is such a distant memory, that it feels like it never even existed at all.

Because abuse makes you not only question other people, but it makes you question your sense of self. Your values, judgments, and perceptions suddenly seem illusory. So much so, that sometimes you feel like you don’t even know who you are anymore. You wonder how all of this happened. With abuse, the pain is not related to loss of another person, but the loss of one’s self.

So, what happens when it’s been a year? Or 2 or 3, and you’re still suffering and hurting? When everyone else has forgotten and moved on with their lives and you feel as though you haven’t moved forward more than a centimeter? Then, you are left once again to question yourself. Does it mean something is defective or wrong with you because time has passed but it still hurts? Unfortunately, it is all too easy to believe this, especially when your abuser spent months/years putting you down and making you feel worthless.

But like all the other things your abuser said, this too is a lie. There is nothing wrong with you if it’s been years and it still hurts; if on some days, the pain is so strong you can’t get out of bed, you have trouble focusing, your heart is racing, you have flashbacks, and you feel like you’re collapsing from the inside out. You are not weak or defective for feeling like this. You are dealing with something indescribably painful and traumatizing.

The thing is, when people say that time heals all wounds, they are inadvertently belittling the horror and life-altering trauma the victim has experienced. Time may distance you from the physical events, and hopefully it will distance you from the abuser himself. But it will not change what happened and the impact it had on you. The scars and the memories will always be there. The only thing we can do is to try form new memories, to slowly learn to reconnect with others, and to re-establish a sense of self, which will undoubtedly be different than it was before. The process isn’t linear, it isn’t the same for every person, and it isn’t necessarily a factor of time.

So please, don’t judge yourself for how long it takes you to heal from something like this. Don’t judge yourself if you feel like you never really do heal. Be kind to yourself and keep fighting. At the end of the day, that’s all you can really do.


21 thoughts on “When time doesn’t heal all wounds

  1. So beautiful!! It makes me think of my mum and what she went through. Her abuser (my dad) was gone for years and then he came back into town for a month. My mum seen him down the street and all the fear came back to her, I could see it in her eyes. She never said anything just turned and walked the other way. I have so much respect for women like yourself and my mum, you are such strong, independent, phenomenal women. Survivors at their finest.

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    1. I am sorry your mother and you went through that. There’s so many people out there who survived trauma like this. I just hope that by speaking about it, we can find some sense of healing and recovery. Thank you for your kind words. They really mean a lot.

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  2. I always tell people to take all the time they need. No one knows the trauma and hurt you have experienced except you. I stopped explaining myself to people because unless you have experienced it you have no idea. But I do believe that we all can be free from our past traumas and that’s what I pray for every woman on this earth because we all deserve to enjoy the life we have on this earth . ❤️❤️

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    1. It’s very true – until you experience it yourself, you don’t know what it’s like. Yes I agree, I think (and hope) we can all be free. But I don’t know that time is always the answer. Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂


  3. My advice and I speak from empirical knowledge; find someone to talk to far removed from the situation. A group of survivors, a therapist, someone positive who will let you talk it out, cry/scream it out. Life moves on, positive awareness should go with it.

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  4. So well spoken! Time does not heal all wounds. Some wounds leave scars. And we know they are there but may not notice them as much as time goes on but the scar is there. I know there are some things I will never “get over” or “let go” or be “healed with time” because honestly that is bullshit when you have been through hell and lost yourself. I have had to re-find myself and my truth instead of 45 years of lies and that has been difficult. BUT that last sentence about being kind to your self and keep fighting. Yes, it is what we do. And only we will know in the end if we can let something go or if time has healed a wound. It is no one else’s place to time stamp our healing.

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  5. I think intrinsically we want to reach out and help people. I don’t even know you and after reading this I want to say something to bring some comfort, but don’t know how to do it. Whatever I might say would feel trite, but I’ll probably say something general and vague and probably not all that helpful. Sometimes the best we can do is listen and absorb. But I don’t think that’s easy for humans to do. We are a social species and we have this instinct I think that knows we are stronger when we are stronger together and we want to raise people up.

    While I do believe that time can make things better, what we can never know is how much time, how much distance does it take. Few people can really connect with trauma, I know I can’t. On top of that everybody is different and takes a different amount of time to work through the same set of circumstances. And of course there is never an exact similar set of circumstances. In some ways in makes some sense that afterwards you might even feel the pain stronger than you did when it was actually happening to you. As a matter of survival it seems almost sensible that one might numb themselves a little to the horror of it all, or not even be aware what is exactly being done to you. And at best time turns the waves into ripples, but just like the ripple patterns in a pond we can follow that ripple to the point of origin, and the memories of what we experienced never go away. What recovery from trauma really is, I think, is not the vanishing of pain, but the ability to use that pain for some positive going forward. It seems like just the fact that you are speaking about it, is helping all sorts of people who have gone through something similar. Such bravery is only to be admired. I honestly feel the path to healing comes from the realization that we are not alone. That there are others that know what you are talking about, even if you feel like at first you didn’t know what you were talking about. 🙂

    Thus far, in a couple of blog posts of yours, I see someone on a path to someplace better. 🙂

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  6. Thank you so much for this. I’m actually working through a break up with a pretty abusive individual right now, and this was exactly what I needed to hear. Keep on writing girl ❤

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