9 Ways to Heal After An Abusive Relationship

In my last blog post, I discussed learning to love myself after experiencing domestic violence. Being abused can take a toll on you and leave you feeling drained and unworthy. It can make it challenging to love yourself.

In both of my abusive relationships, I lost myself completely. I didn’t love myself during the relationships, so I felt deep hatred for myself after they ended. 

If you’ve left an abusive relationship, you’re probably trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild your life. One of the hardest parts, which is leaving, is already done.

Healing after being in an abusive relationship isn’t easy but it’s worth it. The healing journey isn’t linear, and some days will certainly be better than others, but with the right plan in place, you can find joy and relief from what you’re feeling. 

Here are a few tips to help you begin to heal.

9 Ways to Heal After An Abusive Relationship

1. Make A Safety Plan

One of the most dangerous parts of being in an abusive relationship is leaving. Planning to leave can be a lengthy process and once you’re away from your abuser, you still need to think about your safety.

Your safety plan can give you a sense of protection so you don’t have to live in fear. 

2. Educate Yourself

After my first experience with domestic violence, I was in denial about what I went through being abuse. What helped me was learning about the different types of abuse as well as the signs. It also helped to read about why people stay in abusive relationships.

Educating yourself on abuse can help if you ever find yourself in a similar situation again.

3. Set Boundaries

When you’re healing after abuse, it’s crucial to set boundaries. Boundary setting can take many forms including blocking your ex’s number or removing them from your social media. It’s best to avoid any contact with your abuser. 

Setting boundaries gives you the space and time you need to heal. You can also set standards going forward for what you will and won’t tolerate. 

4. Call on Your Support System

I spent months being abused without anyone knowing. Looking back, I wish I had spoken up sooner. Having a support system during this time is going to be essential to your healing. It’s important to know that you don’t have to go through this challenging time alone.

The right support system can help pull you out of the darkness. 

Another way you can receive support is by contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline. You can call the hotline at 800-799-7233, text them at 88788, or visit their website to chat with an advocate. I have used the online chat option more than once and found it very helpful. 

5. Forgive Yourself

I went through a time when I was angry at myself because I felt like I allowed the abuse to happen. One of my exes told me on numerous occasions that I made him hit me and I believed him. It took a while for me to understand that what I experienced wasn’t my fault.

During your healing process, you must let go of any guilt you may feel. You have to forgive yourself for anything you think you did wrong.

Remember: There’s no excuse for abuse. 

6. Start Doing Things You Enjoy

In my first abusive relationship, I was so miserable that I stopped doing things that made me happy. I stopped writing and even quit my job at one point. The relationship was toxic and robbed me of any joy I had. 

Once I began to heal from domestic violence, I started doing things that I enjoy.

Immerse yourself in activities that make you feel good. Not only can this be a great distraction, but it can also help you rediscover who you are and what you’re passionate about. Once you start doing more of what you enjoy, you will also learn to love yourself. 

7. Grieve

Even though your relationship was abusive, it’s normal to mourn.

Your relationship probably didn’t start abusive and at some point, you were likely happy. Give yourself time to process what you’re feeling and permission to grieve your loss. 

It may also be helpful to keep a journal where you can write about your feelings and work through them.

8. Replace Negative Self-talk With Positive Thoughts

Your abuser’s harsh words may be ingrained in you to the point where you constantly have thoughts that you’re unworthy or that you deserved to be abused. When these thoughts appear, shut them down and replace them with positive self-talk.

It’ll take time to change the way you think about yourself but eventually, you’ll be able to focus on positive thoughts.

9. Seek Counseling

I was already in therapy before my last relationship ended; however, I found it difficult to open up to my therapist about how traumatized I was.

It took a while for me to find my voice but once I did, my therapist and I started working through my trauma and painful feelings.

Seeking therapy after leaving an abusive relationship is important. Working through your trauma with a trained professional can help you process, release, heal, and move on. 

Healing Takes Time

One thing I’ve had to learn on my journey is that healing isn’t an overnight process. It’s not something that can be rushed, especially after going through something so traumatic. Now that you’re out of your abusive relationship, you have to be patient with yourself. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes up for you without judgment. 

Following these 9 steps can help you start the process of healing. Be proud of yourself for leaving and committing to moving forward. 

You are worthy and deserving of living a joyful life. You are worthy and deserving of genuine love and respect. You deserve to love yourself unconditionally. 

While time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds, over time, with the right plan, you will begin to heal. Know that you don’t have to go through this alone, reach out for support when you need it.

Photo by Divine Effiong on Unsplash

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