Moving forward after an abusive relationship
Ending an abusive relationship is never easy and there are a range of emotions one may feel when the relationship has ended. Below are some tips and takeaway thoughts that may help you to move forward and heal.
Allow yourself to grieve. Whether it is grieving the loss of the person, the relationship, family unit or future plans. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotion comes to mind. There is no timeframe on how long your healing journey may be and everyone’s journey looks different. Do not feel as though you need to complete everything at once, as it may be overwhelming. But it is important to grieve – don’t jump into a new relationship for the wrong reasons.
Take time for you. Be kind to yourself as it can take time to rebuild after leaving. Maybe it is time to try something new, catch up with old friends, start a journal or pick up that old activity that you used to enjoy.
Reach out for help and support. When you feel ready to rebuild, there are local organisations that can help. It may be that you need help with housing, financial and budget advice, counselling, joining community groups, clothing or parenting support. These organisations exist for a reason – do not be afraid to ask for help.
Build or continue to add to your support system. Remember that you do not have to go on this journey alone. A good support system can include friends, family, support groups, a counsellor, lawyers or a social worker. Isolation can be a form of control in abusive relationships so it is important to reconnect with those people that you may have lost contact with along the way. You may also find that some relationships are lost due so evaluate who are supportive, healthy and encouraging in your life.
Set boundaries. Boundaries within relationships is a way that we can look after and keep ourselves safe. Setting healthy boundaries ensures that other people know what your expectations are around their behaviour and what they can expect from you. Remember that boundaries are not just important in intimate relationships; they can be useful with friends, children, family, work colleagues etc.
Learn about abusive relationships. It can be useful for people to learn about abusive relationships for so that they can reflect on current and past relationships, while looking to create future healthy relationships. Understanding the cycle of violence, signs of abuse and entrapment that can occur can help people to better understand what they have been through, reduce the stigma, raise awareness and support healthy new relationships. Please contact your local Refuge to see how they can support you to understand more about abusive relationships.