collaborative post | Abusive relationships are a stain on modern society, but something that many of us are unfortunate enough to experience. Indeed, one in five of us experience domestic abuse in our lifetimes, with the statistics heavily skewed towards women as victims.
The statistics are well-publicised, but less well-publicised is the difficult road out from under the influence of such a traumatic experience. What are the steps to rebuilding after an abusive relationship?
The first, and often most daunting, step in life after an abusive relationship is to start rebuilding relationships with friends and family. Abusive partners tend to exhibit similar patterns of behaviour, uniting victims and survivors in general aspects of their experience.
The most common amongst these patterns is isolating the victim from friends and family – whether through coercive control, financial abuse or emotional blackmail.
Re-engaging with friends and family after such an experience can be disarming, especially where emotional abuse tactics may continue to have impacts on self-esteem; it can be easy to believe that your family do not want to see you, or that you would be otherwise unwelcome.
But overcoming this first hurdle can also be the most profoundly impactful move towards regaining control over your life – not in the least due to the outpouring of love you receive from loved ones grateful to see you back.
Recovery does not end with familial reconciliation, though, by any stretch. Abusive relationships are horrendous ordeals with many long-term effects and impacts, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder amongst other mental conditions.
As such, targeted support is a crucial part of any process of recovery, with different networks offering their own benefits to survivors.
By utilising these networks, you can gain equitable access to support in seeking psychological help for your ordeal, or even in seeking legal support for civil action against your abuser.
Participating in Community
As well as seeking targeted support from organised networks, it is important to seek out ‘normality’ after such an isolating and immiserating experience. While it is true that life will never truly be the same after such a time, it is also vital that you take the reins in redefining what your life looks like. This means re-entering your wider community.
Even simple acts of self-service, such as taking yourself to a local café alone, can be immensely impactful in helping you rebuild connections to the world beyond your abuser. This also gives you the opportunity to forge new connections and friendships, reinforcing your control over your own situation and allowing you to build a life on your terms.
Taking Your Time
All of the above can sound like a lot to process – and it is. Recovery is not a linear process, nor is it necessarily a simple one. The kindest thing you can do for yourself is give yourself time; there is no rush to any of this, and every step forward is a positive one no matter how small.