The above two words could be seen as travelling in each other’s company, but this concept could not be further away from the truth. If you have every walked the road I was set to travel the difference is insurmountable. Many may even think that the difference is only marginal so why split hairs? We have all at some point in our lives been involved in a sympathetic conversation, given someone that we care about a hug that will make everything turn out right. As we ourselves have received and taken comfort from. It’s an act of the power of sharing our feelings with another, an expression of pity or sorrow which acts as a two way street. In a word we are sharing ourselves with another with an understanding of the place they find themselves in. At some point or another we ourselves have experienced something similar. Sometimes all it takes is a hug given either way to make everything seems less painful. We see things so much clearer simply because we are stronger within this united force. We can now move forward in the knowledge that we know where we are going. Because of this alliance we have a greater understanding of the place we have been. The tears you have cried have been washed away; Sympathy has made all the difference.
Empathy however is a whole different kettle of fish, a whole new ball game, a horse of a different color. I could go on here but I’m sure I have made my point.
To be empathetic you have to draw on resources that sympathy could never hope to cover. Your life’s path must have traveled very closely within the pain that is sitting there in front of you; you can almost feel the tormented troubled mind screaming out for is release. No explanation needs to be given, and no explanation needs to be heard. You’re looking at a mirror image that seems as if it has always been your shadow. Your mind in running away as fast as it can, because it remembers the pain you yourself have suffered. But it seems no matter how fast the light can travel it always finds the darkness. So do you run before the memories flood in? Can you share their demons and still remain in control? Can we let our mask slip leaving ourselves vulnerable? These are all questions we face in the complete understanding of another’s abuse. Over the last few years it has become so very clear to me that yes the above is indeed possible. When we draw from our pain to walk with another the empathy is served both ways. I guess that the best way to explain it is that unless you have walked in the other mans shoes you will never know if they fit.
During my time of talking to other survivors we all seem to have found the same thing, talking to another survivor increases the healing process tenfold. There are so many professionals out there that do an excellent job, but this knowledge has been acquired through study hard work and the good grace to want to help others. We can never think that these professionals are not needed because that would be an untruth; I myself found my first tiny steps forward by drawing from their knowledge, so lest we not forget their input. The only difference quite frankly is that you can’t learn how it feels to be abused. If we are lucky enough to have found the way through our own demons we are the best person for that job.
So let’s return to that person sitting in front of you and the pain you see within that’s so very real. How can you ever say the right thing? You have a feeling of words are just not enough they would just seem so empty. You remember your own struggle so clearly now, and the journey you yourself had to take. So what was it that made the difference for you was it just words? This I can say without doubt that it’s always the spoken word that makes a difference.
The other difference we may be forgiven for if missed.
When we really break it down it’s just so very simple. If you what to learn to drive you consult a driving instructor. If kayaking is your thing you need to be on the river with someone that respects the water and its dangers. When we look at other aspects of our lives it is a simple choice, we consult those that can teach us how. So is it so very different whilst dealing with our abuse pain and emotions?
As a survivor you have the knowledge that if nurtured in the right fashion can make all the difference. If you can learn to walk back within your own pain to that gateway of understanding, then you have a gift to impart that has taken you a life time to achieve. We lose so much because of our past within abuse, that there has to be some good found within. Your journey has given you the power to step up and show the world that the road ahead can be met with hope.
You are the difference we may be forgiven for if missed………………

Author's Bio: 

Teresa Joyce was born on the 15th December 1958 the middle child of three. After losing her father at a very young age; this was to set the pattern for the rest of her life. Losing was something she would have to get used to. Today she still has some memory of her father, but in truth it’s all a little hazy.
Her mother through no fault of her own after that loss had no other alternative, other than to return to her parent’s home with her children in tow. This family unit were to spend only a few years there, until the wind of change came along. Her life was about to change beyond belief. She would spend many years hating not only herself, but everything around her as the years progressed. She swore to herself that she would leave all this behind at the first possible occasion. Happy memories are something that Teresa holds in very short supply. Her mother was set to meet the man that was to become her stepfather, and they moved once more to a new city with the promise of a new life. Hopefully it would be a happy one for all concerned, but it became a place for Teresa that felt far more like a prison.
No one was safe if they stood in the way of my stepfather and what he claimed was his. I would be abused and blackmailed unable to stop or control anything going on around me; I felt that the only way out would be to check out on life completely and it seemed a welcoming prospect. Running from memories of all those years living by his rules, buried so deep within me I never really remembered or faced until I was forced to do so.
I would find myself in a situation that I had no control over and in the grip of a complete madman, who was hell bent on destroying my life. Running from memories of all those years living under his rules, buried so deep within me I never really remembered or faced until I was forced to do so.
I saw myself delving deeper and deeper into my own unconscious thoughts, revealing to me memories which seemed so alien. Happy memories for me are something that I hold in short supply, and I always thought that they were in my childhood, but that was about to be blown out of the water.
But the problem with opening Pandora’s Box was that once opened I could no longer close the lid and I am still carrying it along with me – like an uninvited guest at a party. It has left me with an enormous sociological/psychiatric residue.
The onset of a set of circumstances beyond my control would stamp its seal, rendering my marriage unworkable. Engineered by the involvement of the one man I had learnt to hate – my stepfather.
I myself would spend many years within mental health care; in fact I am still under their care umbrella. I would move from a heterosexual relationship into a lesbian relationship. Firmly believing that anything controlled or even remotely integral to men, was something I never ever what’d part of again.
There is always a light at the end of the tunnel; my aim is to reassure that through my personal experience.