“It is a serious issue of feeling safe”

**Trigger: mention of abuse**

Dissociation is something that happens to me a lot in relation to abuse i suffered a as a child. I detach from my body and from people around me, and often I isolate myself. I find it difficult living in shared houses when this happens, especially when I am living with people who don’t respect my personal space. I think it’s important for people to know that to respect the personal space of those you live with is especially important if you wish for all housemates to feel comfortable in their living space. It is not a case of being anti-social to not want people in your bedroom, for example: for me it is a serious issue of feeling safe, and like my boundaries won’t be crossed. I once had a housemate who kept just knocking on my door, and entering, without waiting for a reply. It made my symptoms worse during an already bad episode of detachment, and her “worry” that I wasn’t ok made me feel self conscious and down on myself. Sometimes I just need a little space to detach, and then re-attach to the world when I’m ready. I guess what I am saying is, be gentle, do not crowd, if you overstep the boundaries of somebody whose boundaries have already been walked all over, you are potentially sending them further back into an old dynamic in which they have previously been abused (as much as this is probably the opposite of your intention!). Something I have also found is the tendency of people that don’t know me very well to try and ‘rescue’ me from my mental health problems. Again, this sets up a power dynamic that is not helpful for me in the slightest, and I have sometimes experienced a worsening of symptoms when this happens. I would say that what has been best for me with my mental health is when those around me have trusted my own processes, and trusted that I am the one who knows best about what I need. The best possible way anybody has responded to a request for support is by asking what it is I think I need, and then just “going with the flow” (because this might change), or asking for consent if they have an idea for what might help. If you want to be availble for support, it is good to make this very explicit, and explicitly state that you are there if the person should ask for support. If you do not wish to be available for support, it might be a good idea ask the person to contact somebody else if they ask for it. I have found that with those people I am close with, I trust them to intervene when things are bad without my explicit request for help (though this will be different for everybody). I guess the key here is to never assume the trust/closeness of another person. Often, trust and closeness is a very explicit thing. If you don’t know whether or not somebody trusts you, then don’t just assume it. If intervention feels necessary in a crisis situation, then there is still always a way to communicate with a person which does not overstep their boundaries. Ask questions, don’t just do things without consent, give people real options which include being left alone, and respect the answer. I have found it good when people have expressed concern in the following way: “i don’t wish to come across as maternal/paternal, but I do feel a little concern. is there anything i can do?”.


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