On Tuesday, many people celebrated Valentine’s Day or a day of love. I got the funniest text message from one of my college classmates “happy buy shit for somebody so you don’t feel bad even though it ain’t genuine day!” I was so tickled. For some that’s the only day they even use the word. Or if they don’t love the person they’re with they break up with them for some unknown reason right before. Typically on Valentine’s Day, we only think of one of the seven types of love, Eros or a romantic type love. However, there are six more types of love according to the Ancient Greeks:
Philia – love of the mind or brotherly love
Ludus – playful love
Pragma – longstanding love (the love between married couples over a long period of time)
Agape – love of the soul – a self-less kind of love, the love for humanity. (Often referred to in the Christian Church)
Philautia – love of self; this includes both selfish love and love for others
Storge – love of a child or the natural love felt by parents for their children
For many survivors, the idea and concept of love is not quite the same. We can love other people and we understand the love for our children but the struggle comes when we think about loving ourselves and someone loving us. For the survivor abused as a child, their view of love may be that the only way to be shown love is the abuse itself. Therefore, they grow up thinking that unless the actions towards them is not like that of their abuse then it’s not love. For the survivor that the assault/rape was their first experiences of sexual behavior, their view of love is often masked by searching to know that this isn’t how it has to be. Prior to the assault/rape, they often had a sense of what their first time would be like and the two experiences were nothing alike. And for the survivor that was assaulted/raped by someone they were in relationship with, their view of love may turn towards, I never want to do this again. Regardless of what category you fall in, these are all normal responses to someone using sex as a weapon. In its purest form, sex was designed to be one of the highest forms of expression of love within a marital relationship. It was meant to be enjoyed not something that would make you feel unworthy and degraded. If you’re like me, I didn’t wait on marriage to have consensual sex. I spent many years searching and longing for it to be something I can enjoy and be mentally and emotionally present for. The thought of it being an expression of love was the furthest thing from my mind. In my mind and in the mind of so many other survivors, the two really didn’t coexist. They were two completely separate entities.
However, as a survivor who has been on this journey of healing for over 10 years now, I’m learning that love is a tangible possibility. Being a survivor doesn’t make us incapable of loving anyone or ever receiving love. The survivor’s heart isn’t just broken, it’s wounded and scarred but can be repaired. We can be loved and experience it with someone who has truly been equipped and designed to love us just as we are, fears and all. But most importantly, we can unselfishly love ourselves. The truth of the matter is when we don’t love ourselves the way we should, we often re-victimize and re-traumatize ourselves by accepting relationships from people who do not have our best interest at heart. I am learning to love me more. To be the driver of my life under the direction and leading of God. It’s a beautiful place to be in. Love is for me and IT'S FOR EVERY SINGLE SURVIVOR out there. On this journey of healing, we have to deprogram the lies told to us by our attackers and re-imagine the possibilities of the love that we always dreamed about.
Love is for you! But do you think it is?