Is there Life after an Abusive Relationship?
Is there life after an abusive relationship? ABSOLUTELY, but you need to give yourself a chance to adjust to a different life. The trauma of abuse leaves deep psychological scars on the survivors. It takes time to get back to a life where you can be yourself without fear of violence to yourself and your children. Besides, how do you cope with the feeling of loss that so many survivors experience after moving away from their abusers?
Note: Most reported abuse is by men against women, so this article refers to the abuser as "him" and "he". If you have been abused by a women, this advice is just as relevant to you.
Often, survivors of domestic abuse have said that they still feel protective towards their ex and many try to avoid reporting the abuse. It's difficult to explain the mixed feelings you get towards somebody you thought you loved, but who has turned out to be an abuser. Perhaps a part of you loves him (or her) still? It seems crazy and no one understands, not even yourself. How can you love someone that treated you so badly? But you do know that you didn’t come to the decision to leave the relationship lightly and deep down you know it was the right decision.
An abusive partner will charm us from the beginning; we may not recognise it, but often women (and men) say that, looking back, the warning signs were all there. You fell in love and his power and control over you increased. We build our lives with him and recreate our world covering the pain that we feel, either by forgiving him for his every outburst or justifying his behaviour to ourselves and our friends and families - he’s stressed, he was drunk, he’s insecure, etc. Using all the excuses he gave us and passing them onto others.
We often feel that we are to blame for our partner’s outbursts of verbal assaults. We think we must be a bad person to make someone so angry and that if we were a better person we could care/love/fulfil his needs better. Therefore our confidence has been knocked massively, our self-esteem is very low and our ability to parent effectively has been damaged dramatically.
You are left with a failed relationship, child/children on your own, probably only a few friends and a strained relationship with your family and his. There can be a euphoric high now that you are free, but it is often followed by a crash as you start to question everything you do, often viewing yourself through his eyes. So just look after yourself. Recognise all the emotions you are feeling as it’s time to start building a new life. You can do it!
Here is a first list of survival things to do:
- Give yourself a break and distance yourself from it.
- Do the things that you felt you were never able to do.
- Try not to dwell on the past.
- Spend quality time with the children.
- Don’t give yourself a hard time about feeling down; it will take a bit of time to find your feet again.
- Write a list of all the reasons why you left him, so you can remind yourself when feeling a bit melancholic.
- Write a list of all your positive qualities, to remind you how great you are!
- Find your local domestic abuse support service and give them a call.
- Read more Tips for Life after Violence & Abuse
REMEMBER - You are not alone!
A quarter of all women and one in six men experience some form of domestic abuse in their lives.