Sadly, one in four women will be in an abusive relationship at some point in their lives. It probably doesn’t start out that way, and after the first time it happens, you probably write it off as a one-off and put it down to stress, lack of sleep, anything but the truth: you’re with an abuser. Recovering and moving on from a relationship like this is difficult, but it can be done. Here’s how to get started:
Recognize and believe that it’s not your fault.
Sometimes it’s easy to tell yourself that maybe if you had done something differently or held back during an argument, you wouldn’t be in the mirror covering up that fresh black eye. But an abuser will always find a way to abuse, no ifs, ands or buts about it. Never blame yourself.
Cut all ties immediately.
When you do get out of the relationship, you have to really get out. Block his number, his family’s numbers, social media profiles — if there’s a way for him to contact you, he probably will. When you cut him off completely, you make it that much easier to move on through the healing process without wavering on his apologies.
Get rid of all relationship reminders.
Get rid of any physical reminders, such as photographs or his t-shirt you used to sleep in, immediately. Once the bruises fade, the memories that scream at you are the ones about the happiness that existed in your relationship, and those are the ones you’re more likely to cling to while you ignore the ugly truth.
Cut your hair, change up your style, move to a new apartment, or hell, even a new town. Take the term fresh start and apply it to as much of your life as possible. After the dust settles, you’ll want to be living anew, and that’s the best way to do so.
Seek professional help.
There’s no shame in seeing a therapist and in this case, it is the best thing you can do for yourself. The physical marks the abuser leaves on your body will heal much faster than the emotional and mental ones, and if you don’t talk it out, they’ll linger a lot longer than they need to.
Remember that his behavior is his responsibility and has nothing to do with you
Being abused by someone you love can really knock you down a few pegs. You’ll see yourself in a totally different light and chances are, you’ll feel ashamed and unworthy because of the emotional scars abuse can leave on your psyche. It’s important to not let go of the things you love about yourself because they’re still there — you just have to work to bring them back out.
Surround yourself with people that love you.
Your family and friends will always be there to love and support you. Be around them as much as possible, because those that truly care for you will help you release the negative energy that’s been pent up inside you.
Keep yourself busy.
Chances are, there are some things you used to love doing that were overshadowed by your abusive relationship. Take up your hobbies again, work on that personal project you’ve been putting aside or join some new classes. Keeping yourself busy will help you keep your mind off the ordeal you survived.
Take a self-defense class.
Or a boxing, kickboxing or martial arts class. This is to help you regain the strength you lost from being in an abusive relationship. You’ll feel less helpless and will fortify your ability to feel as though you can take care of yourself if anyone decides to mess with you again.
Don’t be afraid to love again.
When you are finally ready to get back on the dating horse after an abusive relationship, it can be terrifying. Thoughts will swirl in your head about whether or not you can trust a new guy, but it’s important to keep in mind that just because it happened before doesn’t mean it will again. You don’t want to allow the abuser to take your ability to love, because he’s taken enough from you already.
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