Going through an abusive relationship can be one of the most difficult situations to get out of. It takes courage and strength to take the steps needed to end a toxic connection, especially when it is with someone who has hurt us deeply.
Abusive relationships can leave you feeling drained, broken, and hopeless. But it’s important to remember that there is always a way out.
According to experts, here are ways to get over an abusive relationship and get back on track to living a happy and healthy life again.
Tamara Ridge, LMFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist | Founder, The Center for Healthy Relationships
Whether the abusive relationship is with a friend, an employer, a family member, or a romantic partner, getting over an abusive relationship is hard.
Related: 30+ Signs of Emotionally Abusive Parents (According to 10 Experts)
When you are trying to get over an abusive relationship, you may find yourself getting stuck between self-doubt about whether you did enough to preserve the relationship and trying to walk away and let go of the hurt.
Here are six remedies for stopping the heartbreak of an abusive relationship:
Accept the reality that “the good” isn’t everything
It’s very common for someone who is being hurt to only focus on the positive, the good in, or the potential of the person who is hurting them.
After a breakup, it’s easy to see only the things you would miss. This is a survival strategy that keeps you stuck in alternating hope and hurt.
When you’re being hurt, you think about what the one who is hurting you needs to stop hurting you. When they are not hurting you, you have glimpses of hope. In both cases, you find yourself always thinking about what you can do better to improve the hope versus hurt ratio.
The problem with this way of thinking is that it ignores an essential truth: the person hurting you is harmful to you. When you choose to only “see” the part that isn’t hurting you, you’re ignoring who this person truly is.
Whenever you begin to feel guilt or regret about the relationship “failing,” think about what the other person did that exhausted your emotional energy for continuing your interactions with them.
Face your fear
Many people stay in abusive relationships fearing that they can’t find or don’t deserve anything better. This is a common belief that fades away when you commit to doing the work of healing your traumas — both past and present.
Often, childhood traumas lead to lies that feel true, and those lies include the belief that you aren’t worthy of relationships that nurture you instead of hurting you.
Challenge yourself to believe that you deserve someone who will never hurt you. Hold on to that belief even if you need therapy or a support group to help you get to the point of belief that allows you to forget about your abusive partner.
Learn about abusive relationship tactics
Many people who are being hurt struggle to recognize that abusive relationships are orchestrated by the abuser.
An abusive person focuses on winning at all costs and on getting you to submit to their agenda. To do so convincingly, they may apologize, show remorse and say they will try to improve their behavior.
In healthy, loving relationships, hurtful things happen. This is normal. The difference between abusive and healthy is that when hurtful things happen in loving relationships, both partners make changes that allow the partnership to remain safe and satisfying for the other.
One of the best books for helping you understand the strategies used by abusive men (and how those strategies may keep you stuck in an abusive situation) is Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft.
This book has been a lifesaver for countless women who have struggled to let go of the emotional pull to stay with an abusive partner.
Make the connection with hurts from your past
Inevitably, childhood wounds resurface during abusive relationships, driving you to try to make up for childhood losses by staying connected with a person who hurts you in a similar way. The strategies you used to survive childhood have become the relationship skills you use today.
By looking at what you did to survive and acknowledging that those skills will not get you what you need for a healthy, loving relationship, you’re taking an essential step toward making sure abusive relationships aren’t in your future.
Learn to listen to yourself
Abusive relationships thrive when the abusive person successfully keeps the person they are harming from listening to their needs, feelings, goals, and desires.
Figure out what you want and need, then practice putting yourself first.
Good and healthy relationships require each partner to prioritize their own needs and, in the case of conflicting needs, find win-win solutions where each is satisfied.
Remember, trusting an abusive partner to prioritize your needs means that your needs will always come second to their agenda. When you feel bad about the relationship ending, think of this and practice abuse-proofing yourself by prioritizing yourself.
Grieve the loss
The loss of an abusive relationship involves grief. After this kind of loss, it isn’t the relationship itself that should be mourned. It’s the hope or image of what you thought it could have been that you must grieve.
Grieving because the relationship may have never been what you needed may also lead to the grief of needs that were never met in your past.
Certified Professional Life Coach, Good Together | Author, “Good Together“
The best way to get over anything is to avoid it in the first place
The meaning of the word abuse, or abusive, can vary significantly across a wide spectrum. It ranges all the way from simple, mild, or improper uses or misuses all the way up to the offensive, injurious, or seriously harmful uses.
For that reason, I need to properly and clearly, define my use of the word abuse in this context.
My focus here will be on the misuse end of the scale rather than on the opposite end of the scale, which is injurious. With that being said, if you are a victim of injurious, violent abuse, please seek professional help immediately.
Abuse, or misuse, can take many forms. People are multifaceted, having physical, intellectual, and emotional elements. As much as we humans like to, and try to, dissect and categorize things, these elements are, in fact, inseparable.
The same things that affect the physical will have some impact on the psychological, and vice versa. We are, after all a, single human. Our physical, intellectual, and emotional parts cannot be either switched on or off, removed, or easily exchanged.
In other words, misuse encompasses the entire person.
Don’t do that
Patient: “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.”
Doctor: “Then don’t do that!”
The best way to get over anything is to avoid it in the first place. If you never get yourself into a bad situation, you won’t ever need to get yourself out of that bad situation.
Of course, that is much easier said than done. It requires us to know beforehand the potential risks that are involved.
How to spot a potentially dysfunctional relationship
There are certain items that, at a minimum, constitute warning signs or red flags. I term these as unacceptable(s).
Disrespect towards you, or others, is a sign of trouble. People who are disrespectful tend to be immature and difficult to be around.
We all have our bad days, but when the bad days never seem to end, or when there are more bad days than good days, there is a problem. Problems don’t just go away. They don’t fix themselves.
Repetitive behavior becomes normal behavior, which becomes the expected behavior.
Respect is what we need and want from others. And that is what they need and want from us.
Discouragement is defeatist and demeaning. We can never grow and progress with those who are perpetually cutting us down. This type of behavior shows a negativity bias which will ultimately undermine any relationship.
If nothing is ever good enough, then why even bother trying?
Support is literally the thing that relationships are built. We all get farther when we pull each other up rather than push one another down.
Intolerance is an indication of selfishness. Intolerance focuses on differences rather than finding commonalities. Differences are magnified and demonized instead of being celebrated and valued. It would be a very boring world if we were all the same.
Tolerance allows for experimentation which spurs creativity as well as advances. Nothing changes if we don’t, or can’t, try new and different things.
Neglect is the antithesis of the human experience. Humans are social creatures. Social interactions are a necessary and integral part of life. It is so important that people will accept negative interactions over no interactions at all.
“The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.” – Wilhelm Stekel
To nurture is to provide for and to develop. Just as we need to feed our physical being, we also need to nourish our intellectual and emotional selves. Without sustenance, we will wither and perish.
If avoiding dysfunction doesn’t work, or if that isn’t an option, the next best thing is to get out as quickly as possible. The sooner you can get out of a bad situation, the better. The longer that you stay in a situation, the more difficult it is to extricate yourself.
To heal, or not to heal, that is the question
What we are talking about is healing, and healing is a process. We can’t heal that which we don’t know is afflicted. And once we have diagnosed our ailment, we can’t heal until we determine and institute treatment.
Related: The 7 Best Books for Emotional Healing
The severity of the wound will dictate the extent of the required therapy.
Picking at a scab can cause reinfection while slowing or stopping the healing process, ultimately leading to dis-figuration. So too, dwelling on the past can cause stagnation while slowing or stopping the therapeutic process and leading to isolation.
Related: How to Let Go of the Past and Move On
The healing process
- Schedule your grief.
- Set a time, and place, to grieve.
- Limit the amount of time that you will grieve.
- Preferably no more than fifteen minutes per day.
- Separate the past from the present.
- There are people, and things, that need you to be here today.
- Because you will have scheduled your grief, step one, you can rest assured that you won’t pass up the opportunity to feel sorry for yourself.
- Change your focus.
- You have better things to do with your time than grieve.
- Notice how much more the present needs you than the past wants you.
- Move on. Accept reality.
- We can’t change the past, so stop trying. Stop reliving or re-imagining, what was, or what you wished was.
Related: How to Make Peace with Your Past? (18 Powerful Tips)
After a bad breakup, I scheduled my grief. I choose to cry in my car in the parking lot of work for no more than five minutes every morning. I would then collect myself as I had people to see and things to do.
Related: What to Do After a Breakup
With each passing day, my grief diminished. I had better things to do with my time and energy than to waste them thinking of what was, what wasn’t, and what would never be.
Healing is a choice that we make and a journey that we take.
Social Worker and Psychotherapist | Podcast Host, Bold as Love
Getting over an abusive partner can be incredibly complicated and confusing.
One of the reasons for this is that our healing and recovery are often significantly impacted by the damage that was done during the relationship to our emotional health, social support systems, and self-confidence.
Also, for many people, the dynamics of power and control that exist in the relationship continue to maintain their grip on you long after you say your goodbyes.
So if you’re struggling with self-doubt, loneliness, or missing your ex, it doesn’t mean you’re weak, wrong, or broken. And it certainly doesn’t mean you should get back together.
Related: How to Stop Missing Your Ex
It means you’re going to have to get a little more intentional and active in your own healing and self-protection after a breakup with an abusive partner.
You’re going to need to put conscious love and action into these three steps: blocking, rebuilding, and getting them out of your head.
Block and self-protect
Like any common rodent problem, once you do finally get them out of your house, an abusive ex will continue to try to sneak their way back into your home if you’re not careful.
So once they are out of your life, you need to take action to make sure they stay out. Close up all access points to you. Cut all contact. Block them on social media, get a new number, and change the locks on the house.
Related: Why Is the No Contact Rule so Effective?
If you have children together, limit your conversations to the exchange of necessary information about the children only. Think of it like building fences around yourself and your new life to protect your peace and sovereignty.
If you’re reading this, you already know that rebuilding life on your own can be an emotional rollercoaster. There are good days full of hope, confidence, and optimism. There are bad days full of overwhelm, isolation, and what-ifs.
You don’t want your ex to be able to get into your head at a moment when you’re feeling lonely, vulnerable, and at risk of taking them back.
Abusive ex-partners often don’t want to let you go simply because they don’t want to relinquish control over you. In the mind of an abusive partner, you belong to them. The way they see it, they own you just like any other possession you might find in their house.
At some point, they’re going to want to try to collect what they think is theirs.
The classic way an abuser will try to get you back is to try to convince you they’ve changed. They may tell you that they’ve seen the error of their ways and promise that things will be different.
The other strategy an abuser often uses is to try to convince you that you need them, that you can’t manage without life.
Often they plant the seeds for this self-doubt during your relationship, telling you that you’re just too anxious, fragile, damaged, and incapable of functioning without them or to be wanted by someone new.
None of these things are true. It’s just manipulation and attempts to control you.
Related: 25+ Warning Signs of a Controlling Partner
The best way to deal with these attempts is to avoid them and prevent them with good boundaries.
Rebuild your social circle
Another challenge in getting over an abusive ex is that they’ve often left us with a lot of mess to clean up, especially with our friends and family.
Many abusers intentionally create tension, distance, and damage in your social circle.
By separating you from the people who care about you, an abuser is able to maintain greater control over you by reducing the risk that someone will call out the abuse, challenge the relationship or help you start a new life without them.
Maybe they gave you such a hard time every time you went out with your friends that you just stopped going and eventually fell out of touch.
Maybe they caused fights between you and your family. Maybe you avoided the people you cared about because you didn’t want them to see what you were really going through.
Loneliness and isolation are incredibly common challenges in the aftermath of an abusive relationship.
While it can feel a bit uncomfortable when you start re-engaging with your circle after you’ve been distant, know that they care about you and they want to see you happy.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and be honest with them. You need to start surrounding yourself with people you can trust and who want what’s best for you. Reach out, repair, and rebuild your support circle.
Get them out of your head
Once you get your ex out of your life, you need to get their toxicity out of your head. Often we internalize our abusers without realizing it. We absorb their put-downs and criticisms.
Their hurtful words continue to play in our head, like a song you heard on the radio this morning but don’t even realize that you’re still humming to yourself. Their mind games and manipulation stay with us, often reappearing in the form of self-doubt, anxiety, and insulting, self-attacking thoughts.
One of the key tasks for moving on after an abusive relationship, therefore, is to heal your thinking habits and rebuild your self-confidence.
You need to start to challenge the negative and distorted things your ex may have caused you to believe about yourself and your worth. Surround yourself with as much positivity and reprogramming as you can get.
There are so many wonderful and free resources available to you on the internet. Create a healing and recovery experience in your own home. Make self-help books, blogs, youtube videos, and podcasts a daily part of your life.
Find a good therapist to help you mentally and emotionally untangle from your ex and learn to trust again. You deserve to heal. You are worthy of good love. Just keep going.
Related: What to Look For in a Therapist
Ellie Borden, BA, RP, PCC
Registered Psychotherapist | Certified Life Coach | Clinical Director, Mind By Design
When you find yourself free from an abusive relationship, it can be difficult to heal and move past the trauma and pain. You can do many things to help move past an abusive relationship, but many find healing in their own ways.
Set appropriate boundaries and create a safe and healing environment for yourself
This includes being clear about boundaries with your ex-partner if you are still communicating, as well as with other individuals in your life and those who will be in your life in the future.
Setting firm boundaries and sticking by them will allow you to gain back a sense of control and the empowerment to dictate who will be a part of your life and to what extent. This will help set the tone for caring for your mind, body, and soul as you move on from the relationship.
Related: How to Deal With Someone Who Doesn’t Respect Boundaries
Take the time to state positive affirmations toward yourself and learn to love yourself, and discover who you are.
Keeping a journal and trying self-care activities that you enjoy will help your mental well-being and prepare you for the future you will have. You can exercise, spend time with friends, try new hobbies or activities you have always enjoyed, or have a relaxing night or spa day.
Keep a strong social support system around you
Keeping a strong social support system around you is also important after breaking up with an abusive partner. There are likely many confusing feelings that are occurring, and having support through friends, family, or your community can provide relief, empathy, and understanding.
Connecting with others you care about can also be a very healing experience and begin to replace negative memories with positive ones from those you trust.
Social support is often underestimated as a way to heal. But when leaving an abusive relationship, the survivors often are left with little self-esteem and self-love and will commonly feel negative about themselves.
A support system can help to take your mind away from these negatives and remind you that you are loved and cared for.
Speak to a professional
Finally, speaking to a professional can be one of the best ways to heal from abuse, especially if you are struggling to move on and deal with the trauma of the experience.
Professional therapists are trained to provide a listening ear and react with empathy and understanding and maintain your best interests throughout therapy.
A therapist will listen to your struggles regarding the abusive relationship and help provide cognitive, emotional, and behavioral strategies to help you work through the trauma and become yourself again.
Therapists can also offer great additional resources and provide a point of view that you may have never considered. A therapist can also positively affect the healing process as the abuse is discussed and the trauma is collaboratively resolved.
Michelle Dunn, LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor and Trauma Therapist | Owner, Michelle Dunn Counseling
Learn how to validate your experience and your emotions
What is the definition of abusive relationships?
When many think of an abusive relationship, they think of physical abuse. Why? Maybe because you are able to see tangible evidence of the abuse (bruises, broken bones, scars, etc.)
However, an abusive relationship can be physical, sexual, or psychological. Psychological abuse can also be referred to as emotional abuse.
Just to clarify — what is psychological/emotional abuse?
This can include things such as:
- Embarrassing someone in public purposefully
- Controlling behaviors (can include monitoring where they are going, reading their texts/e-mails, and cutting them off from loved ones)
This can also include:
- Gaslighting behaviors
- Denying abusive behaviors occurred
- Accusing someone of always cheating
- Blaming behaviors on the other person
- Convincing someone they are crazy or that something didn’t happen
- Giving someone the silent treatment
- Withholding affection from them
- Taking the blame for someone else’s actions
- Downplaying what happened in your relationship
- Restricting access to financials
What are signs you are in an abusive relationship?
There are many signs to determine if someone is in an abusive relationship. This can be things such as:
- Finding yourself always apologizing to stop the other person from becoming angry.
- You feel like anything that goes wrong in your relationship is your fault.
- You start to lose confidence in your perception of things because you are often told you are wrong or stupid.
- You don’t want to talk to your friends or family about your relationship.
- You feel like you cannot make your own decisions about things.
- You are always seeking out permission to do something/see someone/ spend money on something.
- Arguments will often turn into yelling matches and be blamed on you.
- Insisting that they go everywhere with you.
- Insisting on tracking your phone.
- Saying you are overly sensitive.
- Downplaying screaming matches as normal arguments.
- Physical abuse or anything that leaves bruises.
- Being coerced to engage in sexual behaviors.
- A partner love bombing you after the abuse or arguments (buying gifts, showering you with compliments, over the top apologizing).
How to heal?
I always tell my clients that healing is not linear. Everyone’s path is different and incomparable. Is it true that trauma can change your brain? Yes. But it is also true that healing can change your brain as well; this is Neuroplasticity.
Healing looks different for everyone, but these are some steps a person can take to heal from an abusive relationship:
Learn what an abusive relationship is and acknowledge your experiences. This can be very hard to do but acknowledging what happened during your relationship is one of the first steps to healing.
- Seek out help and support
I highly recommend therapy as a means of support. This can also be surrounding yourself with loved ones. This may mean reconnecting, as a lot of people in abusive situations are isolated from their loved ones.
Someone can also seek help from domestic violence hotlines or shelters, calling the police, seeking out a restraining order if appropriate, or finding a support group.
Engage in ways to practice self-care. Take care of yourself. This may feel strange at first if you are used to taking care of someone else and neglecting your needs. But by taking care of yourself, you will notice a difference in your energy and overall well-being.
You may have to spend time re-learning what you like. Be mindful of how you are sleeping and eating. Try to get exercise every day.
Learn how to validate your experience and your emotions. Try not to fall into invalidating thoughts such as “others have it worse than I did.”
There are many types of therapy that can help you move forward from an abusive relationship. Some include accelerated Resolution therapy, Brainspotting, and EMDR.
Katina Tarver, MA
Life and Relationship Coach, ThePleasantRelationship
Differentiate between a healthy relationship and an abusive one
When you are in an abusive relationship, people might tell you it is “okay.” But any kind of abuse is not okay, and you must acknowledge it.
You might not understand what is right and what is wrong. But it is essential to know the difference because, with that, you will be able to draw healthy boundaries in your future relationships.
Invest time in yourself
You probably were pressured, forced to do things against your will, and had no freedom. As a result, you are broken from the inside and have lost a lot of time in the relationship.
So, it’s time to spend some time on yourself. Try and analyze the toxic signs of a relationship and save yourself from falling into the trap again.
Be conscious of the triggers
There could be instances where some things might remind you of the abusive relationship. For example, if your abusive partner burned you with a cigarette, its smell or presence can remind you of the abusive relationship.
Ascertain such triggers and find a coping mechanism.
Be a part of a support group
Maybe your abusive partner never allowed you to meet new people. Therefore, you might feel out of touch, and you might feel awkward talking to people.
You might also distance yourself from people. But you have to understand that it is a bad idea. The more you mingle, the more you feel relieved. The more you share your pain, the more you can focus elsewhere and eventually heal.
There may be a time when you find a suitable companion who will understand you wholly. However, your past relationship might stop you from making a decision.
If that’s the case, do not stop yourself. Rather trust yourself and your instincts. Some good people care for you, and getting close to them is not wrong. However, if you notice a pattern or sign of an abusive relationship, that’s a warning sign for you.
Don’t forget to express your desires
Maybe when you were in an abusive relationship, you had no medium to express your desires. However, now that you are out of it, this is the time to express yourself.
If you are considering getting into a new relationship, always express yourself. If there is anything you love about them — tell them. If something triggers — let them know. Every word counts, and pour your heart out for your well-being.
Denise Donohue, MEd
Certified Health and Life Coach, Optimal Life Coaching
Recognize triggers and learn new coping skills
First, I would like to point out that the title is misleading in the sense that nobody will ever get over an abusive relationship. Abuse in any relationship causes deep-rooted trauma and most likely will surface from time to time throughout the survivor’s lifetime.
What I would suggest to help survivors move through their trauma is to work on helping the brain recognize external forces in their environment that trigger anxiety and panic and practicing coping mechanisms to move forward.
How to use two simple techniques to move forward
Whether it be physical or emotional abuse, our brain has been developed over time to protect us. It creates a trauma response that includes a fight, flight, freeze, or fawn reaction.
Considering these responses to be “normal,” they do not always serve us in the real world and especially when seeking or developing a more positive relationship in the survivor’s life.
Two simple techniques to take your brain out of this response to a more rational state take practice. First, when exposed to a trigger that causes your brain to go into protection mode, it is effective to tell your brain to stop.
In my life coaching practice, I encourage my client actually to think of a red stop sign. This helps to jolt the brain, stopping it from an irrational response.
You can even tell your brain, “Stop, I got this,” to help move your thoughts into a more logical state. Then, take two huge belly breaths, known as diaphragmatic breathing, to help calm the overstimulated response.
Breathing helps move the body into a more relaxed state which can really be an asset when feeling the physical effects of the trigger.
Building your confidence
Abuse in any form can greatly damage a person’s self-worth and esteem. The survivor is ridden with negative self-talk. I have helped my clients by working on confidence-building techniques that help quiet the negative voices in their heads.
I find focusing on implementing a daily meditation routine, practicing effective problem-solving skills, and learning some cognitive behavioral interventions to help process unresolved feelings, stress, and anxiety caused by abusive relationships are most effective.
Licensed Professional Counselor, Cornerstone Mental Health
Avoid personalizing the abuser’s behavior
Getting over an abusive relationship can be difficult because experiencing abuse often can impact a person’s sense of self and worth.
A helpful component in moving on from an abusive relationship is learning to forgive yourself for staying longer. However long it was, and for tolerating behaviors towards you that do not align with who you are and how you desire to live your life.
It is also helpful to avoid personalizing the other person’s actions towards you. Personalizing an abuser’s behavior is akin to taking ownership of their behavior, which is an external factor that you cannot control.
Personalizing also keeps you in a negative loop of self-blame, which can contribute to difficulty in moving forward.
Experiencing abuse of any kind can impact a person’s view of themselves. It can be helpful to pay attention to the story you are telling yourself regarding how you were treated in the relationship.
Learning to separate your intrinsic value outside of the treatment you received. That could look like reinforcing the idea of worthiness even if you were not treated with decency and respect. “I am worthy of love and respect even if that’s not how I was treated in this relationship.”
Author, “As Far As You Can Go Before You Have To Come Back“
The two most important elements are financial responsibility and actual distance
Financial autonomy is emotional freedom
You absolutely do not have to be rich to break free. I certainly wasn’t. In hindsight, I see that from the moment I assumed responsibility for myself financially, I began to demonstrate a Self apart from the abuser.
My life, then
I took home $800 a month. I didn’t have a car; I had a bus pass and a bicycle. On the rare instance that I ate in a restaurant, I ordered my food twice as spicy as I liked it, so I had to eat a ton of rice with it.
That way, I would have enough of the meal left for lunch the following day. Daily, weekly, and monthly, I saw growing proof of Self, the literal receipts: bus tickets, paycheck stubs, bills paid, tax returns.
A studio apartment rented in my name. The tiny space had a Murphy bed and a shared bathroom in the hall. As rinky-dink as it was, I paid for it. Every month. On-time.
No permission is needed; none asked
As modest as I was supporting myself, taking care of myself financially gave me the wherewithal to develop the emotional independence needed to do what I call “getting out”—meaning: I stopped running my life to accommodate the abuse, the abuser, and the abusive family system.
To start living for myself and for my future.
Distance is safety
Whatever the nature of the abuse—physical, emotional, sexual, spiritual, intellectual—being able to understand “distance” immediately following the nature of the abuse creates safety. Physically abused? Physical distance. Emotionally abused? Emotional distance.
If you aren’t in the same room, they can’t insult you, can’t touch you inappropriately, can’t tell you what to do or how to do it.
Now, in addition to being financially self-sufficient, you can become responsible for your own physical, emotional, sexual, spiritual, and intellectual state of mind and being.
Relationship Expert, Sameera Sullivan Matchmakers
Recognize emotional abuse and prevent it
You can start to process and deal with what you’ve been through by having an understanding of emotional abuse. It’s possible that actions you had previously witnessed and accepted as normal were abusive.
Understanding emotional abuse better can finally enable you to comprehend what a healthy relationship should entail, enabling you to establish stronger connections with other people in the future.
Keep in mind that you are not to blame
Although it’s common to hold yourself responsible for the emotional abuse you’ve endured, you should realize that nothing you’ve gone through was your fault.
It’s possible for emotional abusers to try to convince you that you deserve abuse, but that’s never the case. The person who is abusing your emotions is in charge of their behavior, not you.
Put your own needs first
You may have developed the habit of putting your own needs and wishes last in your toxic relationship in order to concentrate on the desires of your emotional abuser.
While there is nothing wrong with wanting to make other people happy, consider whether you have a tendency to always put others before yourself.
Spend some time considering your aspirations and objectives, and make an effort to reconnect with your feelings.
Lindsey de los Santos
Elementary School Teacher | Owner, Migraine Road
I actually grew up in a home where my dad abused each member of my family. Unfortunately, in my first marriage, my ex-husband was emotionally abusive.
He was so abusive that he was triggering seizures, as I had the onset of epilepsy during our first year of marriage. I was having seizures all the time and struggling with my health. After divorcing him, I only had one seizure due to a med change.
I spent five years wondering how to get to the other side, and I wanted to know I did all I could get before the divorce. What I realized is not only had I done all I could, but I could not afford to stay one more day in that house. My health was going downhill.
My hope has always been to encourage others, and that is why your inquiry caught my eye.
Since leaving, I have been able to rebuild a life of hope. I have been teaching in a new place, am remarried with a family, and have a blog dedicated to helping migraine sufferers. All have helped me feel such love and empowerment in this blessed life.
I will share my thoughts below and would be honored to be a part of your article.
Have a support system
Draw encouragement from those you trust and let them be the voices you listen to.
If you have found yourself isolated from those close to you, remember they love you and will welcome you back into their lives with open arms. Most likely, they were hoping for the day you would call.
Do not listen to the abuser’s lies. There will be moments when you doubt your decisions, and in those moments, lean on those who can be a voice of reason and who you know are rooting for your best interests.
Find your hope and hold onto it
You may feel broken and like you have lost your identity, but know that there is always hope in all times and in all things that truth cannot be taken from you. You are stronger than you think, and with faith, you will make it through. In fact, it was my faith that carried me through.
So find your hope, hold onto it, and remember you are going to make it.
Give yourself the gift of starting something new and finding yourself again
You will most likely feel refreshed and at peace. This new start may bring about opportunities that didn’t exist before.
It is ok to feel scared at times, but don’t let that stop you from moving forward. With each small step, you will find your way to the other side. What an amazing place the other side is to be.
You will one day look back and think of things to tell your former self. In that moment, love where you have made it and know it all has a purpose. You will be stronger and have the chance to encourage someone else.
Trust you will get there, friend.
Wellness Blogger, Content Creator and Mindfulness Expert, The Good Feeling Place
This may sound obvious, but it still can be taken lightly. A lot of people tend to self-blame and reduce their whole existence to the abuse they suffered.
It is also common to resent yourself and hate yourself, thinking there is something that is wrong with you or that you deserve what happened to you.
One thing to realize is abuse is never your fault. Even if it took you longer to leave, you are accountable to how you felt and how you got out but never to the pain inflicted on you.
Realize that in order to move on, you must forgive that past version of you that you thought didn’t know better or that you thought to let the abuse go on for so long. Visiting the past as a way to make yourself feel worse than you are now is complete self-sabotage.
Tell yourself each day, “I forgive me, and it’s okay. I can move on from this.”
Give yourself the most love and care, let go of the blame, let go of trying to figure out what went wrong, and let go of seeking closure if it means reopening doors that are the root of your trauma.
You are allowed to forgive yourself as many times as it takes to find yourself again.
Take time to love yourself and build your self-confidence
As humans, we have this amazing ability to self-heal and bounce back from whatever life throws at us.
One of the best practices is being kind to yourself and being kind to your mind. An abusive relationship is a traumatic experience that leaves us vulnerable to open wounds that need delicate healing.
Being kind to yourself can be in the form of:
- Taking it easy.
- Going to therapy.
- Shutting out people or places that compromise your healing process.
- Setting boundaries.
- Saying kind things to yourself like affirmations.
- Having a self-talk in the mirror to acknowledge.
- Complimenting how far you have come.
There are no right answers here, but the most important thing is to try to find your spark again, to reassure yourself that you are beautiful, you are important, you are a good person, and you matter.
Rebuild confidence in yourself, eat healthily, go to the gym, read a self-help book on healing, seek communities that support victims of abuse and, stay on positive social media, fill yourself up with inspirational videos that show you that life can be good again.
Soothe yourself into feeling better.
You are allowed to cry it out or have bad days
Crying is a good way to let the emotional poison out. Sometimes we can’t express our emotions through words.
I encourage you to cry it out as much as you can but don’t cry it out as a way to prove you are stuck. Cry it out as a way of letting go of the past.
Mourn the person you used to be, mourn what happened to you, throw that tantrum and do it as a way to make peace with that part of you that you will never become again.
I encourage mindful crying of letting go of a phase or piece of you and knowing that no matter what will come, it is a new beginning, and the old you is gone.
Avoid self-blame or asking questions you don’t have answers to. Allow yourself to cry as a goodbye, and know it might be painful, but it will get better for you.
Know you have power, and this, too, will pass by.
Author, “Wilderness Survival“ | Founder, Wilderness Survival Training
Abuse can be devastating to the psyche. It wages war on the mind and baits victims into accepting blame for destructive behavior which was never theirs to shoulder in the first place.
Therefore, it is imperative to identify how people can heal from abusive relationships so they can discover the personal strength needed to reconcile the past and look forward to a brighter tomorrow.
Accept your innocence
Abuse in any form (physical, emotional, or psychological) is never acceptable under any circumstances. There is nothing that can possibly justify abuse, so don’t believe the lie that you are to blame in any way.
Abuse is simply the manifestation of another’s inability to exude self-control over their behavior, meaning you are, unfortunately, the innocent recipient of their destructive actions.
Make no mistake, you share no ownership in their abusive behavior, so continue to maintain your complete innocence regardless of the circumstances because abuse is always intolerable and unjustifiable.
Recognize your value
You are beautifully and wonderfully made, so don’t ever think you are damaged goods. An abuser may be able to tarnish the exterior of who you are, but they cannot stain the joy in your heart if you don’t allow it.
You are not a product of your abuse either. Rather, you have the power within you to rise above the ashes and cast off the scarlet letter of shame that your abuser wishes to hold you captive.
In other words, let guilt, shame, and regret be your abuser’s scarlet letter to bear the rest of their life, not yours.
Related: What Is the Difference Between Shame, Guilt, and Remorse?
Seek wisdom and counsel
The wounds of abuse run deep, and scars take a lifetime to heal. Therefore, receiving proper wisdom, counsel, and discernment are vital to reconcile the past and moving on from the present.
Keep in mind abusers attempt to make you believe no one cares about you, which is why professional help is so critical to success.
That is why living in the freedom of support and community will ensure you are not held captive any longer but set free to begin life anew with healing and rehabilitation.
Choose to forgive
Arguably, it’s the hardest pill to swallow, but forgiveness is the key that unlocks the freedom you desperately have been searching for.
Forgiveness does not mean you forget what happened. It simply means you choose not to be held captive by painful memories.
Forgiveness allows you to close the chapter, and by choosing to forgive (regardless of whether your abuser has sought to reconcile), you ensure that your mind has accepted the past and decided to move on.
Forgiveness is power. Therefore, by choosing to forgive, you choose to no longer be held captive by the darkness of your past.
Pay it forward
The greatest way to overcome abuse is to allow your story to become an inspiration for others who find themselves in a similar plight. By sharing your story, you empower others to speak up against abuse.
Granted, that doesn’t mean going public with your abuse is easy by any means. However, by paying it forward, you can make a monumental difference by protecting others from becoming victims as well.
In the end, it gives meaning and perspective to the pain and abuse you endured by discovering the silver lining of sovereign purpose to your story, which can be used to minister to others.
Parenting Content Specialist, HiJunior
Once you’ve gotten out of an abusive relationship, it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to getting over the experience.
No matter the kind of abuse you experience, it’s important to acknowledge and accept that in order to feel better, there is a healing process that needs to take place.
Here are some tips on how to get started:
Talk about your experiences with someone who will listen to and support you
Talking about what happened in an abusive relationship can help you gain insight into why it occurred and provide understanding for yourself. It also helps release any guilt or shame associated with being in an abusive relationship in the first place.
If talking isn’t something that comes easily for you, consider finding a therapist or counselor to help you process what happened.
Practice self-care and focus on rebuilding a sense of self-worth
Taking care of yourself is not only important for your mental health, but it’s also essential to getting over an abusive relationship.
Start small by doing something that you enjoy each day, such as reading, taking a walk, or engaging in some form of physical activity. That way, you’ll start to rebuild your self-confidence and appreciate the things that make you unique.
Connect with people who can provide emotional support during this healing period
When we go through traumatic experiences like abuse, it’s important to remember that we don’t need to go through them alone.
Reaching out to family members and friends can be incredibly helpful in getting through this process.
If it’s too difficult to talk to people you know, consider joining a support group or finding an online community of people who understand what you’ve been through.
Practice forgiveness — for yourself and for your abuser
Forgiveness is an important step in the healing process and can be incredibly empowering when done from a place of understanding and love.
It doesn’t mean that you have to condone the abuse that occurred, but rather accept and acknowledge it as something that happened in the past and no longer holds power over you today.
Healing from an abusive relationship isn’t easy, but with dedication, self-care, and understanding, it is possible to come out stronger than ever before.
Remember to take things one day at a time, be gentle with yourself, and seek out the support you need to get through it.
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