Lila had her first serious boyfriend at age 19. She fell head over heels in love and was overjoyed at the prospect of their future together. She thought he felt the same way, but over the next couple of years, she experienced something that was the opposite of bliss. Her boyfriend was abusive. No, he never hit or kicked her. But he was emotionally abusive toward her, and the sexual part of their relationship also included clear signs of abuse (although she didn’t recognize it at the time).

She escaped the relationship at 23. A year later, she met a wonderful man at her church. In another year, they were married, and by the time Lila celebrated her 30th birthday, the couple had two beautiful children. Her husband was everything she could ask for: kind, loving, and as good a father as she’d ever seen.

But something wasn’t right. It wasn’t her husband. Something was getting in the way of her happiness. Her husband never gave her reason to feel scared or threatened, but somehow intimacy was terrifying for her. Their relationship suffered because she had a difficult time connecting with him, expressing her feelings, and showing her own affection. When he reached out to her, she’d pull away or retreat to silence. He was puzzled and frustrated. He thought he was doing all the right things, but she wasn’t responding in the right way. Frustration started turning into bickering and resentment.

Domestic violence frequently leaves scars that aren’t visible. The bruises, cuts, and other marks fade pretty quickly, but the fear, the loss of self-confidence, and the inability to trust someone else can remain decades after the abuse ends. While Lila had left her abuser and was now with a wonderful man, her unseen scars had not healed properly. She had never been able to come to terms with them and still blamed herself for what it happened to her when she was younger.

The good news is that those scars can go away. It isn’t easy, but the right counselor can help women (and men) who have suffered abuse find the confidence, the strength, and the peace they need to move forward. A counselor can help them understand how the past abuse is impacting their current relationships and offer sound, practical strategies for overcoming those challenges.

If you or someone you love seems to have invisible scars keeping you from sharing the life you want, our counselors will be happy to help you find the way to put the past behind you and build the happiness you truly deserve. Call us today.

If you need immediate help, or wonder if you might be in an abusive relationship, contact Sheltering Wings.

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