One in four women will be the victim of domestic abuse at some point in her life. It may involve someone she's dating. It may be at the hands of her husband or partner.
That's a staggering number, isn't it? Twenty-five percent of women. Shocking. And so sad.
But some are able to get out of violent relationships. What happens once the abuse stops and real life begins? How do you heal after an abusive relationship ends?
1) Step out of the shell of abuse and see the situation as it was. You were being abused. If you've been defending your partner and trying to tell yourself "it's not so bad," it's time to take off the blinders and assess the situation. It's real. It's hard. And it sucks. But you can get better.
2) Develop and maintain a support system. Tell trusted friends and family about what happened in your relationship. Tell them what you need from them, whether it's a sympathetic ear or someone to keep you from going back to your partner.
3) If friends and family are not a help to you, don't hesitate to seek a support group. Not only can you find strength in numbers, but it will allow you to connect with others who have been in your shoes. A support group for abused women (and men!) can be an excellent place to find and develop new coping mechanisms.
4) One of the hardest things to undo once the scars of the abuse have faded is to learn to love yourself. Abuse -- verbal, emotional, or physical -- slowly erodes your self-worth and self-esteem in ways you may not realize. Learn to slowly build your self-esteem back up. Make a list of your best attributes (ask a trusted friend or family member to help) and keep it with you at all times.
5) Remind yourself that you, YES, YOU, deserve better. You don't deserve someone who treats you badly, and if you take your partner back after he or she promises "never to hurt you again," remember that abuse doesn't simply stop -- it escalates.
6) Learn to talk encouragingly to yourself. You don't need someone else to tell you that you're awesome or doing a great job -- you must learn to tell yourself these things ... and believe them.
7) Love thyself. It may take a long time to heal and process the abuse you suffered. While you're in recovery, you must learn to love yourself, or risk ending up in another abusive relationship. Only once you see yourself as a being worthy of love will you be able to be in a healthy, positive relationship instead.
8) Seek professional help. There are therapists out there who specialize in treating victims of abuse. Don't hesitate to find one and meet regularly.
9) Write it out. Take some time every day to write out your feelings -- the good, the bad, the ugly. There are websites where domestic abuse victims can post their stories in order to gain strength and to see that they are not, in fact, alone.
10) Recovery takes time. It's a cold, hard fact. You won't be able to bounce back immediately from the abuse, but you will get better. And when you do, you'll finally find yourself whole again.
What are some other ideas for recovering from domestic abuse?
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