Leaving an intimate partner who is abusive can be one of the hardest things a person does. But after they are out of your life, many times, you may experience feelings of depression, guilt, anger, loss and sadness.
There is no right way to feel or heal after you leave an abusive partner.
It may be hard to stop thinking about your old relationship. It’s completely normal to feel this way, and often it can feel like leaving the relationship was the wrong decision. In relationships where your partner is abusive, it is common for partners to spend the majority of their time together. Also, people who are abusive have likely made you feel that you are not worthy of having friends or dating anyone else. When the relationship ends it can be easy to feel like there is no one else who cares about you.
It’s likely that your abusive partner made you feel guilty about breaking up and made threats to keep you fearful of ending the relationship. So a lot of the negative feelings you have after a break up are the result of the abuse that happened in the relationship. The important thing to know is that it’s OK to feel that way: your abusive partner made you feel that way.
Build a strong support network
Holding in all the strong emotions you feel after a break up and carrying them alone can be a overwhelming task. This is why it is important to build a solid support network to turn to in times when the break up is hard to handle. A support network can include any person(s) you feel comfortable and trust talking to, like family, friends, and Battered Women’s Support Services.
Counseling can be a good option to help healing after you leave an abusive partner because it provides you with the opportunity to talk about how you’re feeling after the break up.
If you are not comfortable with counseling, talking to someone who is a good listener (who will not tell you how to feel or what to do) can be just as helpful as counseling. It can be hard to open up to people at first, starting a journal can be a huge help as well. Not only will you be able to get your emotions out on paper, you will have a record of how you’re feeling on a regular basis.
Spend time doing what you want
Often the choice of how to spend time is controlled by an abusive partner. After the relationship ends, it can be incredibly liberating to know that you can go back to spending time how you wish to. The best part is that you can do what you love most. Whether that means spending time with family and friends, playing a sport, learning an instrument, going to the mall, or volunteering, pursuing things that give you joy are helpful to get past a break up. It may feel uncomfortable at first to hang out with others and try new things, but it will get easier.
A break up can be overwhelming but just know that you have already taken a difficult step to leave an abusive relationship. As time goes on, feelings of sadness will lessen. Know that’s it not your fault for feeling this way, that it is OK to have these feelings, build a strong support network, and pursue your interests, these negative feelings will start to fade.
If you ever feel like you have no one to turn to, BWSS is here to support you.
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