Video: Sharing Stories of Harm

“Past abuse is not one of those realities that you share quickly with anyone, until you’ve developed a kind of solidity of trust,” says Dr. Dan Allender in this video, part of our ongoing series engaging topics related to trauma, abuse, and the hope for healing. Dan addresses one of the most common questions we receive at The Allender Center: How much should I share about my stories of abuse and trauma with the people in my life?

Dan says there are two extremes: some people share nothing, compartmentalizing their trauma and fostering a sense of isolation that is based in suspicion and shame. “You’re virtually in the Witness Protection program, and you’re going to operate in your life in a way in which that secrecy and the demand to never experience shame again becomes more important to than the nature of the relationship.” At the other extreme are people who share their deepest harm with just about anyone who will listen, presenting “data that doesn’t seem to have a relational foundation to be able to hold that level of heartache together.”

Between these two extremes, Dan invites us to consider how we might engage our stories of trauma in the context of relationships that are deepened, over a long period of time, in the shared messiness of day-to-day life. As trust is developed, we can enter our stories slowly, in a way that invites curiosity, honesty, grief, and the gradual movement toward depth and particularity.

“The invitation here is, don’t demand the telling of the story to be the way you actually build a relationship with another person. But also know, eventually there will need to be telling in order for that person to understand the wars you fought in the past, the kind of struggles you have in the present, and what redemption will look like for both of you in the future.”

These videos are scratching the surface of the deep, weighty, and crucial exploration of trauma and restoration that we offer in our brand new Healing the Wounded Heart online course, which has grown out of the material in Dan’s 1989 book The Wounded Heart and the 25-year retrospective Healing the Wounded Heart. This new online course will invite you to deeper engagement of your stories of harm and your hope for healing. We have been humbled by the process of creating this course and would be honored to have you join us, whether individually, with your spouse, or with a small group. Learn more here.