When Home Doesn’t Feel Safe

By Wendy J Olson, Healing Coach + Founder + Executive Director of Grit Plus Gumption

All month long, we’re talking about adverse childhood experiences and how they later affect us in our adult lives. We call this campaign “Evolve” because as we learn together, we can grow, heal, and eventually thrive.Get involved by joining us on our Instagram page, @gritplusgumption and/or donating using the link at the bottom.

Last week we talked about family not feeling like home. While that is a milder version of what we’ll talk about this week, one is not worse than the other. An unsafe home can feel like many things. It can feel hostile, loud, uptight, tension in your chest. If your parents fight violently or they don’t speak at all, the trauma of both is still very real and very valid.

Some people stay married for years “for the kids,” but truly hate one another. I personally don’t believe that’s a good example for the ones in their care, and I don’t think that’s a valid reason to stay together. The kids know you don’t like each other. Heck, they might even think you don’t like them! 

Either way, the home doesn’t feel safe.

When we talk about Domestic Violence, most people think physical abuse. In October of every year, we run a campaign called #unSEEN where we dispel myths of domestic violence and talk about the non-physical violence in a home that is just as valid:

Emotional Abuse


Narcissistic Abuse

Mental Abuse

Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse is not reserved for outright name-calling and blatant disrespect. Some of the worst perpetrators have a way with words to where you don’t know you’ve been insulted until years of therapy later.

What We’re Doing About It:

Both our domestic violence survivors and s__ual exploitation survivors typically have witnessed violence in the home in one way or another. As we walk through our first two stories, and sometimes the latter two as well, we uncover memories of violence that maybe we weren’t able to name before. And sometimes, it comes as a feeling. It is up to us to name that for our clients. In this way, they feel seen, known, and heard. Then it’s our job to love on them through their healing process.

Red Flags

How do we know if our home doesn’t feel safe?

  1. Do we feel comfort inviting other people over to our home?
  2. Do we have the feeling of walking on eggshells when we are at home?
  3. Does our body feel at rest when we’re home, or does it feel rattled with anxiety?
  4. Is home some place you want to spend more time or less time?
  5. Does home feel uncertain, unpredictable, about to blow at any moment?

It’s always important to check in with our bodies when we’re trying to figure out a situation. Our bodies will never lie to us. Our heads and our brains…they’ll lie to us all day long. But the body doesn’t lie. It can’t. Learning to be more self-aware and become embodied will lead you to making better choices and decisions as well as trusting your gut.

Green Flags

How do we know if home is a safe place for us? A refuge?

  1. We sleep well in our homes.
  2. We know what to expect from day to day.
  3. We can count on the people within our home to have out backs and to keep us safe.
  4. Home is a place we want to spend ample time at.
  5. We feel comfortable bringing people into our home and having people over.\

Home, no matter what it looks like, should always feel like a safe place, a refuge from outside world. When everything else is going crazy, we should be able to find home a calm and peaceful place. No matter how loud it may actually be.  Sometimes even loud laughter, screaming, and shouting can feel comforting if it’s with the right people. Take it from this New Yorker. Loud feels familiar. Loud feels like family.

If you found this information helpful to your own healing journey, please consider donating to Grit Plus Gumption and supporting another woman’s healing journey as well. You can make a tax-deductible donation using this link. We thank you for your support!

Wendy J Olson is the Founder and Executive Director of Grit Plus Gumption Farmstead, a 501c3 nonprofit. She also works as a healing coach, facilitating the Allender Center modality of Story Work, (Narrative Focused Trauma Care. ) She walks with women through their stories of past hurts and traumas, guiding them to freedom and healing.

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