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It’s been several years since I got out of my abusive first marriage.
After a lot of hard work and healing, I’m finally at a good place where I can help others. But it wasn’t always like this.
In fact, immediately after leaving my ex I developed PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This is what my therapist and personal physician diagnosed me with. Now I look back on it as a Post Traumatic Stress Response.
Because PTSD sounds so permanent.
Besides dealing with PTSR as a result of the trauma I experienced, both physically and emotionally, my depression came back in full force.
But I knew there had to be a way to get over these symptoms that were a result of the abuse. Because there was no way I was going to deal with all this crap the rest of my life.
So I researched and tested and found a better way.
Trauma-informed healing was the key to my own recovery and I’ve seen it work for so many others as well.
Here are the 7 secrets I used to heal myself after my own abusive relationship.
Secret #1 – Recognize what happened
As a victim of abuse, this can be very difficult for us to do. Because we’ve been in a relationship where the “controller” more than likely used gaslighting as a method of control. They made us think what happened to us, didn’t really happen to us.
So take some time and recognize that what happened to you, did indeed happen. Recount what happened to you in as much detail as you can. I recommend doing this in a journal.
This step can be a painful part of the process, but DO NOT skip it. It’s important for us to feel this, to recognize what happened, to finally voice our side of what really happened.
The first step in healing is owning our own story.
Secret #2 – Seek therapy
Finding a great therapist literally saved my life. She helped me recognize everything that happened to me, validated my story, and helped me understand that how I was treated was NOT ok.
Finding a good therapist can be tricky. If you can’t afford one on your own, go through your local abuse shelter. (Click here to search for resources in your area.)
Another great resource is Better Help. You can do therapy in the comfort of your own home and don’t need to take time out of work to go into a therapists office. They work around your schedule.
Secret #3 – Take back your power
Regaining your own power after a toxic relationship is the biggest part of healing. We got used to being controlled by another person. So taking back our power can seem like a foreign concept. Take it step by step and you’ll gradually start to feel more and more powerful and confident in yourself again.
Make extra time specifically for self-care. Getting out of a toxic relationship we need to take great care of ourselves and now more than ever. It’s a great practice to get in the habit of. If you need some great self-care ideas, check out these posts:
Now that you’ve got out of that toxic relationship, it’s time to set some boundaries for yourself. Set them in all your relationships. This is the perfect time to teach people how they should be treating you and how they should be respecting you.
Some ways that I set boundaries for myself:
- Non-negotiable self-care
- I don’t get involved in drama
- If people talk negatively about me, I cut them out of my life
- I removed people and things that did not serve my greatest good
While you’re at it make a list of what you do want in a partner.
When you focus on what you don’t want – ironically it’ll keep showing up in your life.
This one took me a while. Doing the steps above will help move you in the direction and mindset you’ll need to be in to prepare yourself for self-forgiveness.
What happened to you is not your fault. But how you continue to react to it is. So forgive yourself and take responsibility for your own healing.
Secret #4 – Cut the abuser out of your life
I know this will be near impossible if you have children together. But if you can, avoid your ex-abuser as much as possible.
There are different levels and severities of abuse and in some cases, you may get the legal system to back you up. Of course, you can’t always rely on others to protect you. Do what you need to do to protect yourself and your children.
Check out The Ultimate Guide to Divorce an Abuser
Secret #5 – Reach out to friends and/or family
This one can be tricky. Abusers love to isolate their victims and one of the ways they do this is by getting your family and friends on their side. So be very picky about who you choose as your support system.
My ex did this. He would reach out to my mom and get her on his side whenever I left him. So then I would have my mom calling me and trying to convince me to go back to him. The final straw right before I left, he sexually assaulted me.
My mom wasn’t “on his side” after that. But my point here is that you may not be able to rely on family to emotionally support you.
Right after leaving I reached out to a few very close friends who had been through abusive situations themselves. The sad fact is that 1 in 4 women experience intimate partner violence, so odds are you probably know someone.
Reach out to close friends and family of those you trust the most and who will support you through this. It takes time to heal and relationships are great containers for healing if they are supportive, healthy, and safe.
Secret #6 – Find a support group
Finding other women who have experienced the same thing you have can be very comforting. After going through an abusive relationship we feel isolated. A big part of healing is connecting with others who understand what we’ve been through and they can be a huge support when you’re having a rough patch emotionally.
They are also great for if you start to think you should go back to your ex. Being on your own can be difficult and it can get very tempting at times to just go back to that toxic relationship. If you ever feel like that, I suggest expressing these thoughts with your support group. They will quickly remind you of all the reasons why you shouldn’t.
There are usually support groups through Abuse Centers around the country. To find a local shelter to reach out to about support groups check out: Domestic Shelters.
There are several really good support groups on Facebook. In fact, Obtaining Bliss has a private support group for women. To join you’ll just need to answer a few questions and you’ll be added to the group.
Some other Facebook groups I recommend are:
Domestic Violence support for women (yep there are two with the same name)
There are lots more than just these, but these are the ones I am part of. You can search for others on Facebook. Some good keywords to use to search are domestic violence, abuse, narcissistic abuse, and toxic relationships.
Each of them have rules or guidelines to follow so make sure you read and abide by those.
Secret #7 – Make your mental health and personal growth a priority
By making your mental health and personal growth a priority you will heal much faster. I get this can be hard to do, especially if you have little ones to look after. However, if you do have little ones to look after, it’s even more crucial that you take care of yourself first. This is so you are fully able to take care of others.
You cannot take care of the kiddos if you are an emotional wreck.
Do this for yourself
Hire a trauma-informed life coach (like me!).
This was a huge game changer for me personally. A few years after getting out of my toxic relationship I found a trauma-informed life coach. It was because of that transformational experience, I decided to become a trauma-informed life coach myself.
What a trauma-informed life coach does is get to the root cause of emotional trauma and teach you how to heal from it so that you stop blocking everything in your life.
By doing trauma-informed healing through an experienced coach like me, you’ll be able to remedy so many symptoms of emotional trauma like:
- Inability to achieve goals
- Lack of empathy
- No self-worth
- Imposter syndrome
And so many more symptoms.
If you’re interested in finding out more information about the trauma-informed coaching that I provide you can fill out an application here.
After reading these 7 secrets to healing after a toxic relationship you’ll be better equipped to move on and clear the blocks to finally live a blissful life. Not just for yourself, but for your kids too!