No one gets into a relationship expecting abuse, especially from the person who claims to ‘love’ us. These behaviors can take many forms, from understanding to controlling, protective to possessive. And it’s not always easy to spot.
Most of us continue ignoring the red flags and keep forgiving, thinking tomorrow will be sunshine and rainbows. We make excuses for our partner’s behavior, telling ourselves that no one is perfect.
But the truth is, abuse is never okay.
When the giggling butterflies in your stomach start turning into flesh-eating moths, it’s time to get out. But getting out is only half the battle—the other half is healing the deep emotional wounds inflicted during the relationship.
How Many Types of Abusive Relationships Are There?
There are four types of abusive relationships. Which one were you in?
Emotional Abuse: It involves put-downs, name-calling, constant criticism, and making you feel bad about yourself. It is the most common type.
Physical Abuse: It involves hitting, slapping, kicking, punching, and any other type of physical violence. Even men can be victims of physical abuse.
Sexual Abuse: Any sexual contact you do not want, including rape, qualifies as sexual abuse. Between 14 and 25 percent of women live through sexually abusive relationships in their lifetime.
Financial Abuse involves controlling all the money in the relationship, making you ask for money, and not giving you money for basic needs.
No matter what type of abuse you experience, it is important to know that you can pull yourself out of this! Stay with us as we highlight some key ways to begin the process of healing.
1. Open Your Eyes and Acknowledge:
Abusers tend to make you believe that you’re the crazy one. They will gaslight you, make you question your reality, and play mind games until you’re left doubting yourself.
All this can prevent you from accepting the truth, even when it’s staring you right in your face. The first step to healing is acknowledging that abuse happened. It’s not your fault, and you are not to blame.
Acknowledge the hurt, anger, fear, and shame you feel. These are all valid emotions that need to be addressed. Don’t try to bottle them up inside.
And remember, if there’s someone to blame, it’s the abuser! Admitting that you have no control over the person’s negative behavior relieves you of any guilt or obligation. From here, you start rebuilding your life!
2. Set Boundaries:
One thing about abusive relationships is that they completely erode your sense of self. Your abuser has taken away your power and control, leaving you feeling lost and confused.
A big part of the healing process is regaining a sense of who you are. You need to establish boundaries and learn to love and respect yourself again.
Start setting boundaries in your life. It includes saying ‘no’ when you don’t want to do something, expressing your opinions, and making your own decisions.
The most important one here, though, is creating digital boundaries. Block your ex on social media, delete their number from your phone, and don’t interact with them.
At first, you might find it difficult, but it will get easier with time. There shouldn’t be anything stopping you from standing up for yourself!
3. Reach Out for Help:
You may feel like you’re all alone right now, but that’s not the case. Thousands of people had walked this road before you and survived. They are living proof that it is possible to heal after an abusive relationship.
Joining support groups is also a great way to connect with people who understand what you’re going through.
Being around others who have similar experiences can make you feel less alone and more hopeful. However, it’s important to note that these groups are not substitutes for professional help, although they are free.
Reach out for help from a therapist or a counselor. They will provide the professional guidance and emotional support you need to get through this tough time.
Your counselor may also offer helpful coping and problem-solving strategies. These can come in handy when dealing with triggers, managing your emotions, and rebuilding your life.
In some cases, targeted trauma therapy is also recommended. This type of therapy works by understanding your history and crafting a personalized treatment plan.
It will help you recognize abusive behaviors, identify triggers and develop coping mechanisms. Clinical psychologists are the professionals who provide this type of therapy.
4. Work on Your Relationship with Yourself:
Unfortunately, abusive relationships can damage this relationship and leave you feeling unworthy and undeserving of love.
Studies have proved that self-compassion is one of the most important predictors of mental well-being and happiness. So, embrace yourself with kindness and understanding. The more you do it, the better you’ll feel.
One of the best ways to heal is to work on rebuilding your relationship with yourself. It includes forgiving yourself for any mistakes you may have made during the relationship. It also means accepting yourself for who you are—flaws and all.
Doing things that make you happy is also an important part of this process. It can be anything from reading, going for walks in nature, listening to music, or spending time with friends and family.
5. Continue Educating Yourself About Abuse:
Just because the abusive relationship is over doesn’t mean you should stop learning about it. In fact, knowledge is power. The more you know about abuse, the better equipped you’ll be to deal with its aftermath.
Read books, listen to podcasts, and watch documentaries about abuse. It will help you understand what you went through and why it happened. It will also give you a better understanding of the warning signs to look out for in future relationships.
It may come as a shock that around twenty people suffer physical abuse at the hands of their intimate partner in the U.S. every minute.
This statistic reminds us that abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, or sexual orientation.
6. Never Look Back:
They return! One day, maybe, you will receive a phone call, an email, or a letter. They want to see you; they miss you; they are sorry. They will say anything to get back into your life.
You must not entertain these thoughts for a single second. You must not even reply. The cycle of abuse is never-ending, and you will never be able to have a healthy relationship with this person.
The only way to break it is to never, ever look back.
Have you seen how a free bird flies into a flame and gets burnt? That’s what an abusive relationship does to you; it burns you. Abuse could be physical, emotional, or sexual. It’s a vicious cycle of pain, powerlessness, and self-doubt.
You keep going back because you hope things will get better, but they never do. If you’re in an abusive relationship, the first step is to get out. It’s not easy, but it’s the only way to break the cycle.
And once out, hold that crown up high because you are a survivor!