Is there Life after an Abusive Relationship?
There absolutely IS life after an abusive relationship…
…however the trauma of abuse leaves deep psychological scars on survivors and we need to be gentle with ourselves. It will take time to adjust to this new life without fear of violence to ourselves or our children. You are not alone- one in four women and one in six men experience some form of domestic abuse in their lives.
Is it normal to feel loss after moving away from an abuser?
Often, survivors of domestic abuse have said that they continue to feel protective towards their ex and may even avoid reporting further abuse after they have separated. It's difficult to explain or to understand the mixed feelings you may have towards somebody you loved, but who you now recognise as an abuser.
Perhaps a part of you still loves them?
It seems crazy and no one understands, not even you. How can you love someone that treated you so badly? You know that you didn’t make the decision to leave the relationship lightly and deep down you are sure it was the right thing to do. But this person has been a big part of your life and it can be hard to untangle those feelings. Maybe you hope that the person you fell in love is still in there somewhere.
It wasn’t always this way…can I go back?
An abusive partner can blind us with their charm right from the beginning; we may not recognise it, but often survivors say, looking back, the warning signs were all there at the start. The romance was distracting us from the control. And the jealousy, which is flattering at first, becomes worrying and isolating. It can be hard to leave once we have fallen in love and when we do manage to get out it can be tempting to return to the ‘devil we know’.
Am I to blame?
We often feel that we are to blame for our partner’s outbursts or bad behaviour. They may well have told us that we are to blame. We must be a bad person to make someone so angry and if we were a better person, if we could care/love/fulfil their needs better they will be nicer to us. Our confidence is knocked, our self-esteem is very low and our ability to parent effectively can be damaged. But we are not responsible for their feelings and actions.
How will I cope now?
You are left with a failed relationship, to manage the child/children on your own, possibly with only a few friends and a strained relationship with your family and theirs. There can be a euphoric high now that you are free, but it is often followed by a crash as you start to question how to move forward into the unknown, alone.
It doesn’t have to be this way forever… it’s time to start building a new life. You can do it!
Things you can do:
- Give yourself a break and distance yourself from it
- Do the things 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 them, 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