The burden of Empathy
She needs to be cared for! He can overcome it!
A man or a woman, both can be survivors of traumatic incidents. Rape, assault, molestation, stalking, and starring are not gender-specific. Instead, these forms of abusive trauma are gender-neutral. Man or woman, both feel helpless when deprived of consent.
Trauma-related to abuse has always led an eye of sympathy towards a girl or rejected her. A part of society finds her incapable and the other half character shames. For boys, we hardly acknowledge that they can be at the receiving end of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. If anyone does, it is negotiated even before it has registered in our mind. We ignore it when we ask them to man up.
While survivors of abuse re-experience the traumatic event or incidents repeatedly feeling threatened, there is an alternative to the post-traumatic experience. It is well-known as post-traumatic growth. The difference of opinion allows people to interpret abusive incidents differently for their survivors. But their empathic ability has remained out of focus for many years. People receive socially constructed ideologies for themselves.
One of them makes survivors appear less capable. Family members try to hide the story of the survivor. There is shame attached to abuse which is experienced by the survivor and their loved ones. Has anyone questioned the shame? A survivor is not the one at fault for the incident. On the contrary, it is a lack of consent and impulsive traits of the predator that need to be condemned. It is tiring for a survivor to continue their life carrying a burden. The burden of abuse, shame, and rejection.
An unknown burden exists in some survivors, the burden of empathy!
Empathy makes us keep ourselves in the shoes of another to experience their feelings. First of all, it is nearly impossible to experience or imagine the feelings of another. For example, you might be a mother and you experience the joy of your son returning home from abroad. Another parent might attempt to understand this feeling and experience a relatively close emotion to joy. However, to experience the absolute is impossible. Relationships and family dynamics vary across families. This is why some women prefer to not have a child and do not share the emotion with other women to experience joy in motherhood. The change in generations has brought a new lifestyle, communication style, and thinking style. Therefore, empathy is an attempt to arrive at a very close approximation of feelings experienced by others.
In a way, it is better to have it this way than carry the emotional experiences of others in our lives. It would complicate things than have people understand each other. Imagine feeling frustration your friend felt when they failed an exam. That sort of empathy is scary than caring!
Survivors are not less capable or have become weaker. According to cognitive understanding, they experience reduced threshold levels. The potential to tolerate pain reduces in some people. In contrast, some argue experiencing pain increases the threshold levels and the person requires greater amounts of pain to feel it. It is how addiction works. Similarly, survivors also develop empathic sensitivity. An ability to empathize with others and experience their pain just as your own.
Empathetic sensitive individuals are present all around us without having to undergo any form of abuse. But survivors have a tendency to be vigilant. They are known to be hypervigilant. It is almost like looking-out for signs and signals that can put them into danger. Besides evaluating the environment for their survival, they begin to pick up the nuances of other people. For example, noticing a person usually talks using common words. When they find those missing or the tone of talking slightly varying, it rings a bell in their mind. A slight change is easily noticed by survivors.
Sometimes such people put others before them in times of need. It becomes their responsibility to make the other person feel better. In return, they are actually trying to make themselves feel better.
Empathy is a privileged skill to have!