You’ve finally freed yourself from an abusive relationship – now what do you do?
Ending the relationship is usually the hardest part, but it doesn’t instantly undo all of the damage. Depending on the length and severity of the relationship, there could be lasting affects that will take some time to overcome.
Abusers are skilled at stripping a person of their self-worth and confidence.
The victim has to conscientiously rebuild their self-esteem to fully escape the affects of the abuse.
In the same careful and calculated way you planned to free yourself from the relationship, you will need to develop a slow and flexible strategy for personal recovery. Start by setting small, personal goals and make sure to reward yourself for every achievement.
The most critical step will be learning to love yourself. Unfortunately this won’t happen until you convince yourself that you didn’t deserve the abuse you endured.
Abusive or narcissistic individuals usually blame their outbursts or attacks on the victim. They will insist the victim drove them to do it, and over time, the victim ends up believing it.
No One Deserves Abuse!
It doesn’t matter if you burnt dinner.
It doesn’t matter if you accidentally dyed his favorite shirt pink.
It doesn’t even matter if you made a mistake and drove his brand new car into a brick wall.
In a healthy relationship, incidents like these might cause a brief, non-threatening argument. They are not justification for abusive behavior. Remind yourself as often as possible that you did not deserve to be abused.
Your life and wellbeing matter. Every life matters.
Many victims of abuse will experience increased self-doubt and depression after leaving. They begin to wonder if they made the right decision and if they will ever be able to cope with life on their own. This is normal and will fade over time
Remind yourself that the worse day alone is still better than spending your life with someone who is abusive.
Loneliness will creep in if you don’t have a strong support group. It is important to keep busy and surround yourself with compassionate people. Some victims are cutoff from family and friends by their abusers, so it can be difficult to reconnect again.
If you don’t have anyone in your immediate circle to lean on, you can reach out to other survivors. There are countless domestic violence groups online that can help you handle the after affects.
Embrace Your Freedom!
The most important thing is to celebrate your freedom.
Try to do all the things you wish you could do when you felt trapped. Start a new hobby, explore your creative side or join a sports team. Fill your days with things and people that make you happy.
You’ve awarded yourself a fresh start in life. You owe it to yourself to make the most of it.
Leaving someone who is abusive isn’t easy, but it gives you a chance to create the life you’ve always wanted. Be proud of your decision, trust that you deserve a better and have faith that it will get easier every day.
A better life is waiting for you.
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By Jenn Sadai