creating healthy boundaries for Abuse survivors

Creating Healthy Boundaries for Abuse Survivors

As part of our continued outreach for our films about healing from abuse, we invite voices of survivors to our blog to shed light on healing, thriving and reclaiming their lives. Welcome Stephanie March once again today as she shares how she shares encouragement and tools for setting healthy boundaries.



One of the most common struggles abuse survivors face is learning how to set healthy boundaries. Our boundaries were violated, sometimes at a very crucial young age, by people we trusted. Sometimes these people were adults meant to define boundaries for us instead of wreck them.

As adults, it is our turn to put those boundaries back into place. Sometimes it can feel like constructing a giant puzzle. We have the pieces and we know they create the right picture but we aren’t quite sure how to arrange them. Some things fit easily and others are a bit of a struggle. However with a bit of patience and a lot of practice we can recreate that positive picture.

The first step is giving yourself permission to create healthy boundaries. Recognize that not only do you deserve them but how much better your life with them will be. Grieve for how they were taken away and honor those memories by recreating what should have always been yours.

Realize that it’s ok to say no. Abuse survivors are notoriously people-pleasers and it is our tendency to want to say yes to making others happy regardless of how it makes us feel. This is not only not ok but it sets a dangerous precedent for everyone we encounter that might have the tendency to use this to their will. We know this from experience. Now we need to know how to say no from experience.

Firmly decide what behavior you are willing to accept from others and what you are not. Plant that fence firmly in the ground and, utilizing the power of no, never let it be crushed. You deserve to have green grass and flowers that aren’t trampled on just as much as everyone else.

Strengthen your emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is defined as skills that assist in a person’s ability to make sense of and manage their emotions effectively. This can improve your life dramatically and help you set healthy boundaries by increasing your ability to IMPROVE YOUR LIFE!


Healthy Boundaries

Image courtesy of The University of Maryland. View full image here.

Be mindful of how you treat your own instincts. Allow yourself to trust your inner voice again. This is often difficult for survivors because that voice seemingly led you in the wrong direction in the past. However, it was not you that misled you. It was your abuser that misled you. Remind yourself of this as often as you need to.

It was not your fault and your inner voice is just as wise and powerful as you allow it to be.

This is by no means a perfect solution to all of your healthy boundary issues. It will take time and a lot of practice to get the right picture from those puzzle pieces. The important thing is to forgive yourself of setbacks and continue to work towards the bigger picture. You have all the right pieces, now trust yourself to put them in place.

Stephanie March is a writer, survivor, and advocate. You can find her on Twitter and at her blog.

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