CHARACTER MOTIVATION THESAURUS

OVERCOMING ABUSE AND LEARNING TO TRUST



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HELPFUL TIP:

To understand why your character is driven toward a certain goal, take time to understand their personality and moral compass using the positive and negative trait thesauri. Also, dig into their backstory to find an unresolved emotional wound. Past trauma is disruptive and can generate unmet needs that, if strong enough, will motivate your character to chase a specific goal to satisfy this need.
FORMS THIS MIGHT TAKE:
Overcoming sexual abuse
Coming to grips with past domestic violence
Surviving the aftermath of being raised by an abusive parent or caregiver
Dealing with being tortured
Being raised by neglectful parents
Coming to grips with being treated like property (sold, prostituted, enslaved, etc.)
Being raised by a parent with an untreated mental disorder

HUMAN NEED DRIVING THE GOAL (INNER MOTIVATION):
There are five basic human needs that, when missing from a character's life, could motivate them to pursue this goal. The following needs are all possibilities, but only one of them should be the primary driver for any given character. For more information on the relationship between human needs and outer motivations, please see​ this ​Character Motivation tutorial.

Self-Actualization: Mistrust, once embedded, is difficult to move past. But should the character need to bond with others (to learn from them, to work together to accomplish a goal or dream, etc.), the need to achieve this goal will drive the character toward healing.
Esteem and Recognition: When a character is abused by others they often feel their power has been stolen from them. A need to reclaim it may drive the character to empower themselves and face their fears.
Love and Belonging: Should a character develop feelings for someone, they may be driven to work past their fears of being vulnerable so they can have that loving acceptance they so deeply desire. 
Safety and Security: Safety can often be found in numbers, but trusting others and joining with them can be difficult for an abuse survivor. A character in a harrowing situation whose safety is on the line might be driven to find a way past their fears if allies will increase their level of security.
Physiological Needs: A character in dire need of help (suffering starvation, needing medical attention, etc.) will be pushed by their primal instincts to set aside their fears and accept aid from others.

HOW THE CHARACTER MAY PREPARE FOR THIS GOAL:
Getting oneself into a place of safety if one has not already done so (a government-supported shelter, staying with a friend, moving into a place of one’s own, moving in with a trusted relative, etc.)
Seeing a doctor and entering treatment for conditions resulting from the abuse (post-traumatic stress, sleeping problems, suicidal thoughts, phobias, anxiety, depression, etc.)
Reading books and articles about overcoming abuse and dealing with the resulting emotional turmoil (trust issues, dissociation, emotional numbness, an inability to express certain emotions, dealing with fears resulting from the abuse, etc.)
Joining online forums for abuse survivors
Establishing a normal routine that focuses on minimizing stress and promoting wellness (eating well, getting enough sleep, taking medications on time, attending support group meetings, getting exercise, etc.)
Identifying and breaking negative thought patterns that will cause anxiety flare-ups or reinforce feelings of low self-worth (by getting outside, reaching out to someone trustworthy for support, starting cognitive therapy, etc.)
Seeing a therapist for counseling
Joining a support group to meet others who understand the difficulty of openness and vulnerability
Strengthening one’s self confidence by viewing oneself as a survivor, not a victim
Empowering oneself through building a career, pursuing education, following passions, getting fit, becoming an advocate for a cause, being in service to others, or learning self-defense
Getting involved in one’s church or community, and through caring for others, realizing that people are trustworthy and everyone has value and is worthy of loving relationships
Getting a pet to provide companionship and unconditional love
Boosting one’s feelings of self-worth through self-advocacy and care
Extending the hand of friendship to others who respect one's boundaries
Helping others by showing empathy, kindness, and understanding, which leads to trust being built on both sides

POSSIBLE SACRIFICES OR COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS GOAL:
Financial hardship from leaving the abusive relationship, especially at first as one is striving to go it alone while recovering from the trauma
Moving on to another dysfunctional or toxic relationships, since this is what one is used to
Heartache or rejection
Becoming vulnerable with someone and being hurt in small ways

ROADBLOCKS WHICH COULD PREVENT THIS GOAL FROM BEING ACHIEVED:
An abusive partner or parent who refuses to let go (by stalking, harassing, reclaiming, etc.)
A lack of support that makes self-sufficiency difficult
People in authority who don't believe one's abuse accusations (the police, a pastor, one's parents, etc.)
Losing family members who refuse to see the truth and turn against one when the accusations are made
People who seek to take advantage (a mugger, con-artist, thief, etc.), deepening one's difficulty trusting others
Sexual dysfunction resulting from the abuse, leading to more struggles with intimacy that must be overcome
A dependency or disorder resulting from the past abuse

TALENTS & SKILLS THAT WILL HELP THE CHARACTER ACHIEVE THIS GOAL:

WHAT'S AT STAKE IF THIS GOAL ISN'T MET?
Being isolated with no close relationships
Being victimized again
Living with fear as a constant companion
Dreams and passions being unrealized
Never being able to be a parent
A lifelong struggle with low self-esteem and self-worth
Feeling isolated and alone