I knew a lady some years back who was one of my neighbours in the university. I became friends with her after we sat close to each other during a general course and we got chatty. Prior to this particular day, we only said ‘’hi’’ each time our paths crossed in the off campus neighbourhood we both lived. She was dating a fellow student whom I later got to know was in the habit of physically manhandling her at the slightest provocation.
One particular evening, precisely her birthday eve, she’d invited me on phone over to her room to assist her with the planning. In about 15 minutes or so, I’d arrived at her place with my other two friends, Ekin and Sirod. We noticed she had dark glasses on even though it was almost dark and there was no need for such.
After some exchange of pleasantries and inquiring how far she’d gone with the preparation, we discovered she hadn’t done much work because she got into some little misunderstandings earlier with her school’s boyfriend who descended on her heavily like a hungry Lion on its prey, leaving the left side of her eyes swollen and with a red spot. This derailed her pace with the preparation leaving her with no option than to seek for extra hands from me.
Hey, I think you are dating a psychopath. Who beats a lady on her birthday’s eve for goodness sake? I asked.
Before then, I have been hearing, reading people’s stories and watching films on how violent some people could be to their partners but never seen any. This was actually my first time. Anyway, after narrating to us what happened, we all asked her how long has it been going on, of which she said right from when they started dating.
And you have been enduring in silence? Is he the only guy in this school? What’s so special about him? My friend Ekin asked these questions in quick succession.
An evening meant for preparation turned out to be one for dashing and dishing out advice for her on the urgent need to leave that relationship immediately. This was the year 2008.
I bumped into her sometime in September this year and while discussing and trying to catch up old times, she told me she hasn’t gotten over the traumatic experience of her abusive university relationship and she feels all men are the same and abusive in nature.
To my amazement I got to learn her relationship with her abusive boyfriend came to an end in 2014 (six years after) and not the evening we spoke to her, surprising right? Yes, most people in an abusive relationship always find it as herculean task to leave such relationship. Got to know her mother was constantly physically abused by her dad and as kids they saw it as normal thing, hence the reason she found it hard leaving her boyfriend in school even after graduation years later. I was totally taken back when she said she felt she did something wrong each time her boyfriend abused her physically.
As we may know, the pain of ending an abusive relationship is one that is terrible, traumatic and heart wrenching, especially for people who are considered to be very emotional at heart. While it may last for few weeks, months or even years for some people, many do not recover from it and will quickly point to it as a reference to any situation that has to do with relationship. Truth is, every one of us is unique in the different ways we heal after a breakup from our partner.
Sometimes a breakup may come along with a sense of relief, especially when you were in an abusive relationship which constantly made you sad. On the other end, the feelings of anger, sadness, fear, lack of confidence etc., may also come along with a breakup with you not knowing how to gather the pieces of your life. It is very normal to have some of these feelings and thoughts after a breakup especially one who was in abusive affair, but what happens after that is the question one should ask herself.
- Do you get stuck in your shell and refuse to move on like my friend’s story?
- Do you hate yourself for being in that relationship in the first place?
- Do you see yourself lacking self-confidence to try another relationship?
- Or do you think your world crumbled and may never be arranged?
- Or what really?
Life is a journey full of adventures and every day we come across new events that we must conquer or experience. Love and heartbreaks are parts of those many adventures that are included on the menu list of life. You might feel as though your world has turned upside down and that things will never be good again. The strength of your feelings might be overwhelming. You might cry, feel restless, or have less motivation or energy to do things. Your appetite is lost and sleep might even elude you from constant thinking.
From research, 1 in 4 women are victims of domestic violence (if married) or in an abusive relationship. In this part of the world where I come from, issues of abusive relationship or marriage (even though its gathering momentum and people are speaking about it now) has always been treated as private affairs between people which needed no intervention from a third party or the authorities.
One thing I have noticed is that most people especially women find it difficult to cope or recover after a breakup from an abusive relationship. Healing after a breakup or a breakup healing process can take long time depending on the individual because there is no one way to feel or heal after you leave an abusive relationship.
Tips on how to recover after leaving an abusive relationship?
A breakup means the undoing of a merging, which is painful to go through. One of the most painful parts of a breakup is that it comes to end things that you have been familiar with or come to know.
As we may know, the decision to leave is not one that is as simple as reciting your kindergarten abc. It takes courage, determination and guts. But when you finally pull the plug, no matter where you fall from the ladder, what’s most important is that you must find a way to bounce back to being your real self and not getting stuck in one position and feeling helpless, hopeless or sorry for yourself.
- Congratulate yourself first for leaving that abusive relationship
As stated in the last paragraph, it’s a tough decision to make but once taken, it will only be a good idea to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself congratulation for the display of such courage. You have to feel good about your feat. Also, you have to forgive yourself for the trauma you must have gone through or endured. Then proper healing after an emotionally abusive relationship should be the next item on your agenda.
- Cut off all forms of communications with your abuser
There is a 100% assurance that your abuser would try to get in contact with you almost immediately after the breakup, so it’s advisable for you to if possible change all your lines and take a break from all internet social activities you usually get in touch with him/her. You can unfollow your abuser on twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, BBM, whatsapp etc. The reason being that at this stage you are trying to gain emotional strength so anything that will hinder you should be discarded. Your focused goal is to heal.
- Build back your self-esteem and confidence.
Most individuals in an abusive relationship usually lose their self-esteem and confidence just like the story of the lady at the beginning of this article. They find it hard to even believe in themselves. Even though building your self-esteem is one of the most difficult things to do, one should learn to slowly get the confidence in her and this doesn’t come quick. It is important you work on it daily just the same way a student prepares for a graduation examination in a few days.
- You are not alone, meet with a support group.
Meeting with others who have been in the same shoes like you will give you that needed emotional support to discuss, clear your mind and free your fears. Sharing your problems and hearing other people’s stories go a long way in strengthening you. A support group however will help you to develop coping mechanisms and reduce your thinking. Sometimes in a support group session, you get to know your story isn’t as horrible as others. You also get to meet experts who are therapists readily available to teach you steps on how to heal after an abusive relationship. Being in a support group is still regarded as one of the best ways to recover from a breakup.
- Always speak positively (to) about yourself
Your happiness lies in your hands and you alone must make yourself feel good and happy. Encourage yourself with positive words and remind yourself of how beautiful or pretty you look or how you deserve someone better. Anyone going through a tough breakup shouldn’t regret being in the relationship but be optimistic for a better future. Regrets will only draw you back and delay your healing process because your entire mood and spirit would be weakened, with low energy in you to do anything to help the healing process.
- Surround yourself with positive people.
Anyone who is healing after emotional abuse needs positive friends who can bring life to their faces and minds at such time. No one needs pity party kind of friends during this period but those who will motivate, inspire, encourage and strengthen you. Also, if you want to go for the movies in the cinemas, go for comedy films and get elated with laughter.
- It’s a period for self-renewal.
One’s breakup healing process should also serve as a period to critically reflect on yourself. You do this by giving yourself lots of time to think about yourself rather than thinking about your abuser while the relationship lasted. Remember that when you are involved in a relationship, the other person receives your attention.
Truth is, even when not physically present with your partner, you do a lot of mental thinking about him or her. So why not redirect such attention to yourself now that the relationship is ended? Do what will make you happy, get involved in all kinds of physical and mental activities that will recharge yourself. Go to movies, musical concerts etc. What I mean is being single is an opportunity for you to connect with areas of your life that have been neglected as a result of the relationship.
- Don’t give up on dating.
A major negative goal of an abusive relationship is that it can produce injuries that may last far beyond the termination of the relationship which may hinder the person involved from entering into another one after healing. It is a situation which can be best described as the past haunting the present.
One must also know that it is possible to enter into a healthy relationship after an abusive or violent one. It is proper that one sees herself as a survivor and no longer as a victim. This is the first step in creating new healthier relationships.
- Finally, know that a breakup is an ending not a rejection and definitely, not the end of your life.
*** Readers should know that anyone could be the victim in a relationship. Even though it is lower in number and percentage, there are known cases where men have been reported victims of abuse by their female partners globally.
*** Domestic violence and abuse are crimes under the law, DO NOT KEEP QUIET about it.
Any experience on this? Kindly air your thoughts in the comment section.