If you have been in an abusive relationship, picking up the pieces and moving on can seem like an uphill battle. You should be proud of yourself, and give yourself credit for surviving all that you have. By starting the process of moving on, you’ll have the opportunity to heal, spend more time around people who love and support you, and have the chance to create a happier and healthier life for yourself.
Many survivors of abuse may experience a lack of confidence and self-esteem after leaving an abusive relationship. You are not to blame for this. Many abusers work hard to lower the confidence and self-esteem of their partner so they will feel that they cannot leave. Experiencing this may lead you to feeling hopeless and make you question and doubt many things about yourself, but know that this is exactly what your abuser intended.
Another aspect of the self that is compromised is trust. Not only trust in others, but trust in yourself. You may be asking yourself questions like: How did I not notice the signs? How could I let it go on for so long? How do I know my next relationship won’t be the same? You may also question the motives behind every person’s intentions, wondering if they will hurt you in some way. These concerns are completely normal, and every person who has left an abusive relationship has experienced this at some point.
How can I move on? You may be wondering. How can I heal? The key to healing is turning inwards to figure out what you need at this point in time to best take care of yourself. This is where the concept of self-care comes in, which many people (particularly if they have been in an abusive relationship) have trouble with because they have not been accustomed to putting themselves first. Some ways to get in touch with yourself are activities such as journaling to reflect on your thoughts and feelings, eating healthy and nutritious foods, getting exercise, practicing yoga or meditation, and taking part in hobbies you enjoy. This time is all about you, figuring out what your needs are and fulfilling them.
Another very important part of healing and regaining hope and self-confidence is surrounding yourself with a positive support system. Think about those who are positive influences in your life and who make you feel good about yourself when you are around them. This could be family, friends, neighbors, co-workers—anyone in your life that you truly enjoy being around. You can also reach out to community support resources such as a counseling center or a support group, which can be very beneficial in helping you heal. This is the time to surround yourself with positivity and things that make you feel good. Do not feel guilty for putting yourself first. It's OK to say no if you are invited to do something that you are not excited about or to avoid seeing a person you do not really care to see. By listening to your inner voice and taking care of your needs, you will feel more confident in yourself and become more hopeful for the future.
Because the time after leaving the abuser can be the most dangerous for the victim, reaching out for help and support from professionals in the community is highly encouraged to maintain your safety. There are many community resources that can help you with housing, food and financial resources. These resources can also help you make a plan to ensure that you and your children, if you have any, are safe.
In conclusion, this can be a very scary, yet exciting time. Change can often be difficult, but remember that you are moving forward in a positive direction. Take one day at a time and think, “What is one thing I can do today that shows kindness toward myself?” Things will get better. Be proud of yourself for taking this huge leap toward building a healthy and happy life.