When meeting a new romantic partner, you would never anticipate ever being a victim of abuse. But unfortunately, in some relationships, things slowly change as your romantic partner becomes your abusive partner. Does this sound familiar? If you are in an abusive relationship or have recently left one, now is the time to find out about healing from abusive relationships.
We have no power to control how another person acts. The abuse gradually gets worse. Initially, the toxic behaviors will be minor and over time these minor incidents become more frightening and painful. The signs of abuse may be visible to others close to you but you will lose your sense of self and become accustomed to the abuse as your reality changes.
At some point, the mistreatment might become so extreme that you are able to recognize the danger, or your health deteriorates and you start searching for a way out.
Due to the psychological manipulation and desensitization that accompanies extended abuse, as well as the feelings of fear and self-doubt that come with being a victim for a long period of time leaving these abusive relationships and healing is a lot more complicated than most people realize.
It is only when you eventually decide to leave the abusive relationship, that the healing can start. This process will be neither simple nor quick, and you might not even know where to begin or how to acquire the help you need. The first step of the journey to recovery starts with acknowledging the situation and the emotional trauma that you have been through.
Heal from Abusive Relationships
Healing from an abusive relationship is often a difficult and complex process. It is important to recognize that healing is a long-term process, and there is no single path to recovery. It is up to you to find the resources, support, and strategies that work best for you in your own healing journey.
Based on my own personal experience and healing process, I can offer various options that I found helpful. These different ways can be used as a foundation to start your own journey.
One thing is for sure, you probably feel like you cannot make it on your own, you may be feeling lonely and confused, but you will succeed and you will be in a much better place, you just need to make a start.
The first step in healing from an abusive relationship is to recognize that the abuse was not your fault, you are not responsible for their behavior, have patience with yourself and focus on the future and don’t look back.
Healing from an abusive relationship is a long-term process that requires self-care, self-love, and self-compassion. It is important to remember that you are strong and capable of moving forward and that you deserve to be in a healthy and loving relationship.
Even if you are not interested in another relationship right now, create a life for yourself and live your authentic life.
There are a number of different things you can do that can facilitate the healing process.
8 Simple Steps To Healing from Abuse
In my experience, I found the following 8 steps to be very helpful in the journey of recovery from a toxic relationship. Toxic relationships come with many different types of abuse, they may be
- Emotional abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Physical abuse
- Financial abuse
- or a combination of different types of abuse
There are many types of abuse but they all leave us feeling insecure, broken, and doubting our self-worth and a fraction of our former selves.
Don’t feel ashamed of where you are, find a support system that can assist you honestly and compassionately for a successful healing process.
Avoid those people who are overly judgmental as this will make the process of recovering from your toxic relationship a whole lot more difficult. Family members or your best friend would be a good place to start.
However, you may need to seek out assistance by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Find the awareness to make the changes in order to find a better healthier outcome for yourself.
1. Accepting that the relationship was toxic.
Gathering information or researching the effects of a toxic relationship and what it is, leads you to understand that you are not alone.
This life experience was not your fault, you were just ill-equipped and prepared to identify and deal with the red flags that were warning you of the trouble that may be lying ahead.
The research is important as it will help you to grow in understanding and knowledge that will better prepare you for the future and in the process of recovering from your current toxic relationship.
Your research may also highlight that there were other toxic relationships in your childhood that were not perceived as toxic because you were a child but they resulted in you learning habitual behavioral response patterns that followed you into adulthood.
You are now at a stage in life where you are able and ready to address these habitual behavioral responses.
2. Breaking ties
Toxic relationships have cycles. It is very easy to be triggered back into the cycle if you don’t allow yourself the opportunity to take a step back and observe your past experience and the reasons you landed up there and why you tolerated being badly treated.
Breaking ties with toxic people is important as it helps to keep you out of the cycle of abuse. This, of course, is the aim of the healing and recovery process.
However, this is a tuff one, as you truly need to believe that the other person will never change no matter how many promises they make. Initially, the desire to be pulled back into the relationship may be intense and you will need to understand that things will not change, and will not improve and that’s what makes the situation toxic.
If you do decide to ever go back things may be great for a few weeks but ultimately they will revert back to the previous toxic relationship behavior patterns.
We live in hope that the relationship can be fixed and so the empty promises sound so appealing and we often fall back into the toxic relationship cycle and return. If you have done this, don’t beat yourself up about it, we have all been there.
So breaking ties with a person completely or at least until you have healed and can see them for who they are is the best option. If you suffered from domestic abuse you may want to apply for a restraining order or move into a domestic violence shelter temporarily for protection.
However, when co-parenting this is often difficult and you may need friends and family as a support network, especially in the beginning.
Forgiveness and I would say forgiveness of yourself and forgiveness of your partner.
This is often a tricky and misunderstood word.
It does not mean that you must forgive them and pretend that you were not mistreated. It means forgiveness in the sense that you accept that the way you were treated was abusive but you are able to accept it, understand it, feel it and then let it go.
Without this kind of forgiveness, it may be difficult to let go of the anger, regret, and pain that you will carry around as a result of the way in which this other person treated you.
Forgiveness of yourself for tolerating the toxic relationship and allowing another person to use and abuse you.
By this, I mean that you may have been involved in a toxic relationship for years and regret the time wasted but realize that you needed to journey along this path to learn many valuable life lessons of self-respect, boundaries, and self-love. These are some of the important aspects of the recovery process.
If you have been in a toxic relationship, self-care is not something that you are familiar with as you have been more focused on self-sacrifice.
It is now time to change your mindset and look at ways that you are able to participate in practices that help to sustain and nurture your inner self.
It is important to put yourself first and not allow anyone else into your life who is not good for you and your well-being or who does not appreciate you. Take care of yourself and your own needs and take time for yourself to heal, recover and transform.
Healing can also be greatly influenced by your thoughts and beliefs. It is important to challenge any negative thoughts or beliefs as part of your self-care program that you may have about yourself or the abuse. Some positive affirmations that may be helpful to practice include “I am strong,” “I am capable,” and “I am worthy of love and respect.”
4.1 Healthy Eating
It is important to focus on eating healthy food even though you may not feel like it as you may be reaching for comfort food or not wanting to eat at all.
Toxic relationships result in high levels of adrenaline constantly surging through your body as you are on high alert and not in a safe space. This constant high level of adrenaline wears your body down and ultimately your health. Your body needs to build strength by replenishing and healing itself with good healthy food.
And of course, let’s not forget to drink plenty of water.
In recovery from abusive situations, you may feel exhausted as your body is depleted but your mind just won’t switch off as you replay scenarios over and over trying to find better outcomes and you may just toss and turn unable to sleep.
Sleep is the body’s best medicine. You may want to speak to your doctor regarding medication or alternatively, you can try CBD products that allow your body to relax and ultimately sleep, practicing deep breathing and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) is another option. If you are unfamiliar with TRE there are many YouTube video’s on this natural technique of releasing trauma and dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Gentle exercise is good for your mood, energy, and blood circulation helping us to have a more positive outlook on life and ultimately our current situation.
For those people who dislike exercise, a good walk in the park or in nature is an option that can clear your mind and get the blood circulating without feeling like exercise.
Recovering from toxic relationships requires a shift in mindset and a release of emotional pain so that we can achieve the best results. If exercise is not your usual habit or favorite pastime, just keep focusing on the positive aspects of the exercise while you develop these new habits.
5. Setting Boundaries
Setting healthy boundaries does not mean building big walls and fencing yourself in. It just means being able to say, “no thank you” without feeling guilty. Understand how you feel about something, someone, or a situation, and speak your mind gently.
You don’t have to do anything that you don’t feel comfortable with and you don’t have to agree with someone else out of fear, those days are gone. You need to define clear boundaries for yourself on what you will accept in your life and what you would rather avoid.
New people will come into your life and it will be much easier for you if you have made these decisions for yourself. With regard to your current family and friends, don’t always try to please everyone, you don’t have to say yes when you actually mean no. People will understand and if they don’t, well that is ok too.
Now you have to learn how to say, “No thank you” or “yes please” without guilt or shame. To avoid slipping back into similar situations with other toxic relationships with manipulative or selfish people this lesson needs to be practiced with your head held high.
It may be helpful to create a plan to protect yourself if the abuser attempts to contact you. This can include changing your phone number, blocking their social media accounts, and/or creating a safety plan.
Abusive relationships and people result in you having low self-esteem and little confidence. Use this time to build up your self-esteem and self-worth. You are deserving of a healthy relationship in the future and a peaceful life.
Using journals and affirmations are good ideas for building your self-esteem, and confidence and creating a positive mindset.
7. Finding a new purpose
When emerging from a toxic relationship with broken wings the thought of flying seems so daunting.
Finding your purpose in your new life of freedom may feel very overwhelming. Start slowly, there are no expectations to change the world, be the solution for world peace, or feed all those who are hungry.
Your place in the world and the difference that you are destined to make will evolve when the time is right. In the meantime, try to make a difference in one person’s life every day, with a plate of food, a listening ear, or just a smile. The gratitude from those in need will help to fill that empty feeling of pain you carry inside.
You may find it easier to find the right therapist that can support you through some of the aspects of a psychologically abusive relationship and the aftermath of emotional abuse. In the beginning, you may find that you will have good days and bad days. The bad days are normal, just breathe, it’s ok. The important thing is not to give up on yourself and know that tomorrow will be better. If you suffer from panic attacks, it’s also normal, and with support from family, friends, and support groups, time, and a positive mindset you will get through it.
Recovering from toxic relationships is a process, there is no right or wrong way. I have just outlined what I have learned through my own journey
The most important point though is to focus on doing something every day to improve your situation, your outlook on life, and the image of yourself. The fire and passion of life within you will slowly start to ignite, glow and then burn bright as you transform yourself through the healing process.