advertisement

After Leaving Your Abusive Relationship: Emotions to Expect

After leaving your abusive relationship, no one can predict your emotions exactly. But after some time of mentoring survivors, I’ve found many similarities between other survivor’s emotional experiences and my own. Fear of the unknown may be a factor in whether or not someone leaves their abuser. So I hope this post gives you a heads up about the emotions you might experience after leaving your abusive relationship.

After Leaving My Abusive Relationship, He Was Still There

Leaving an abusive relationship didn’t immediately change my life. I was gone, but I hadn’t left him. I obsessed over him and our marriage. I imagined conversations we might have the next time we met. I woke to his voice only to find he was not in the house. My heart raced around the time he would normally return home from work.

My old routines remained. I continued to fear doing something wrong that he would discover. I cleaned the house, bought his favorite foods, and budgeted the money he sent me for four despite having only three of us in the house (our kids and me). When he called, I was afraid not to answer. When he emailed, I emailed right back hoping I met his time schedule for responding.

I continued to behave as if he would come home any second. I lived in chaos, attempting to attend to an abusive husband who no longer lived in our home.

Retraining Myself After Leaving the Abusive Relationship

About 6 weeks after we split, I noticed how much time I spent waiting on his next move. I decided that I would no longer put off doing what I needed to do just in case he decided to contact me. This was not easy, and it didn’t happen overnight.

I trained myself to wait before answering or returning his calls and emails. I trained myself to recognize and cut his words out of my vocabulary. I trained myself to exude confidence when I saw him. I trained myself to react calmly to his insults and manipulations (see How Did You Brainwash Me?).

The hardest part about retraining myself to not react to his antics was realizing just how many of his opinions and actions I’d adopted as my own. Take for example his look of disgust when he saw the laundry basket sitting at the foot of the bed, clean clothes folded but not put away. When I saw that look, I hustled to get those clothes in their drawers.

So to retrain myself, I left a laundry basket on the bed for a full week. I lived out of that laundry basket. At the end of the week, the sky hadn’t fallen and no one was seriously injured. I started to feel better about ignoring housework to focus on other, more important issues (like how to support myself after the divorce).

Real Change Came After Leaving My Abusive Relationship

Once I forced my ex-abuser out of my head (or at least forced him out of a good bit of it), I could concentrate on the important things. For one, deciding how to support myself was scary! I didn’t have clue one as to where to begin. I didn’t want to work my life away as someone’s employee, but bit by bit, I began to realize that being an employee temporarily was probably the quickest way to an income. I didn’t know how to become an employee! Truly – I didn’t.

I found out about a class at the Small Business Association and took it. I learned that I had skills and how to document them on a resume. I learned how to look for suitable work, and I followed the advice from the class. I got a job doing something I loved to do, and took it despite its drawbacks.

Key Is To Keep Ex-Abuser At A Distance

During this time I kept him out of my plans. I didn’t tell him what I was doing. I didn’t share my thoughts or plans with him. I viewed him as our children’s father, someone who shared their lives with me, but he was no longer invited to peer into the rest of my life.

I desperately missed having someone with whom to share my hopes and fears, but I knew that sharing with my ex would only end in him twisting my words into a knife to thrust into my back. I called my sister more often. I went out with an old friend. I met a man and we had lunch. In short, I broke my isolation and forced myself to find other outlets for my needs.

About 6 or 7 months after I’d left that abusive marriage, my ex showed up at my house at 10 o’clock one night. He looked sad, but wouldn’t say why he was there. He wanted to come inside. I had detached myself enough to know that allowing him inside was the worst thing I could do. I told him that I had company, that it wasn’t a good time to visit.

He left and peeled out of my driveway in a flash.

I felt good. I really did! I took a look around: I had a job, I had a house. I had enough income to feed myself, our boys, and my cats. I had friends and family who checked in on me and whom I called just for fun. I wasn’t all the way healed, but I was a lot closer to it than I could have imagined half a year ago.

You can be happier, too. Be patient with yourself, but don’t look back to your abuser for comfort. When you find yourself second-guessing your decision to leave, think about the crap you used to tolerate and ask yourself if you want your abuser’s manipulative behaviors back in your life.

It’s normal to want to retreat, but it’s also normal to overcome abuse. You can do it.

*Both women and men could be abusers or victims, so please do not take my pronoun choices as an implication that one gender abuses and the other is victimized. This post is part of my story and my abuser was male.

You can also find Kellie Jo Holly on her website, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

(Visited 31,609 times, 75 visits today)
This entry was posted in Leaving Abuse and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

88 Responses to After Leaving Your Abusive Relationship: Emotions to Expect

  1. shaz says:

    Samantha, I totally feel your pain.. my partner or ex has told me he will be moving on wont stay on his own at all. he has moved into shared house with 2 young girls 20 years younger. it breaks my heart. Also our son is not impressed. He says they are his new family. He can stay with them. Im dreading if and when he does meet someone else or even has a one off with anyone. As he will inform me off his conquest. I cant bear the thought of another woman being with him. I have been with him for 11 years and never envisaged my current situation. Not being with him. Not having him in my life. I know im being very stupid thinking that if we get back together things will change. There has been a lot of contributing factors. Financial strain, him feeling isolated all he did was work and stay home. He didn’t see him family as they didn’t like me! he didn’t go out. He claimed I stopped him. He didn’t like going out much. The biggest issue was financial situation. He said you’ve changed. I have changed before I used to stay quiet and not argue back. Now I raise my voice and argue. Which are things he hates!! im not blameless. I have not been helping him financially. I have not been looking for a job. Ive actually become very low and depressed and am always snappy and shouty.

  2. ali says:

    Thank you. One year out and struggling. I feel like printing this article out and putting it on my mirror, especially the bit about not giving him the chance to talk! I have been struggling. Thank you x

  3. jaimie says:

    After leaving an abusive marriage after 16 yrs. I find myself terrified of moving on. This relationship is all I’ve ever known. I know with all of my heart that this marriage was making me physically and emotionally not well, and this huge decision is completely for the best. So here is to a happy future.

  4. Mister A says:

    I was in an abusive relationship for 4 months, though I was with that person for 6 in total. The first 2 months I can’t count as it was very early and we only dated. After that it became quite intense very quickly.

    I accepted that because it’s what I thought I needed. Unfortunately it was just me acknowledging her behaviour as OK, because every week after was exactly the same. We did everything on her terms and if I didn’t like that I would get bullied into submission. Not extreme verbal attacks but very subtle jabs. Enough to wear me down and take her opinion as ‘law’.

    She didn’t like that my best friend is a woman, who has a long term partner and someone I’ve known for nearly 10 years. Did her very best to isolate me from not only her but everyone close to me.

    I know it doesn’t seem like a long time compared to those who were with someone longer or have children with. But those 6 months felt like years. I became a shell of myself, saying yes to everything because I didn’t want another argument I knew I’d lose.

    I held on for so long because I loved her and of course still do. But I know that I can’t go back because despite all the promises, she never changed.

    I look back at the things she said and did to me, all the while smiling and claiming she loved me. Well I’m not her puppet anymore.

  5. Gloria says:

    I left him because he belittled be all the time , u did that wrong this wrong it wasn’t good .When I opened my mouth he said I act like the man but I was just defending myself, sometimes I think about him and miss him but I know he doesn’t want to change his attitude he’s not good for me so I’ve learned to move on for my sake ..

  6. Becca says:

    This website has been helpful for me. I have been in a relationship I think is abusive for three years and have just left him.

    I can identify with pretty much all the articles on this website and comments particularly the article about brain washing. It started with controlling behaviour, him monitoring my phone, for example text messages people I have called and people in my contacts lists, emails etc. he made it clear male friends and colleagues were not acceptable.

    Then came the threatening and nasty behaviour; if I went out with friends there were consequences, name calling and shouting in my face. Breaking things in the house and breaking parts of the house itself. The worst of all was the withholding of communication and affection.

    I became deeply unhappy after he got physical with me one time, unprovoked.

    Now I have left him and the pain is unbearable, worst is the panic, anxiety and panic attacks I think caused by fear of the unknown and having to face what has been left behind. I am hoping this doesn’t last because I can’t bear it. The pain in my chest and stomach and the empty feeling.

  7. I am so sorry for all of you. I left an abusive relationship not physically abusive. I left in October my ex. called wanting me back I was worried about him sent the police to make sure he was okay. The police woman called me back to say that he’s doing fine. When I left I remember him smiling and the cop who drove me out smiling. I wasn’t smiling but then later he called to say how miserable he’s been. I left because he was controlling, got jealous easily, had no respect for my feelings. This girl kept coming over she was after him I told him. He said he wasn’t interested in her said she had an ugly butt and that he would never cheat on me with that but then said she was a nice person. If he did not want
    someone in the house it made him uncomfortable they did not get in. This girl was always around everywhere we went, lied to me more than once. Told him one thing me another
    my reputation in the neighborhood went doenhill. One night I slipped said something I
    shouldn’t I made a mistake. I was sorry and no got in trouble. This girl turned my friends
    into my enemies I tried talking to her nothing.

  8. Nicole says:

    My story is a lot different. I met my emotionally and mentally abusive husband at 16 years old, high school sweethearts if you will. We married when I turned 21. I finally worked up the courage to leave. We had been married almost 20 years before I realized the abuse I had suffered since a sixteen year old girl. I finally worked up the courage to leave. I was terrified, stayed sick, when I decided it best to leave the small town we lived in and relocate with my brother to his new duty military station, six states away from the hell that I used to call home. I struggle with it still, not all day everyday, however I am still realizing a lot of his behaviors more once I was gone. I am dealing with that. My biggest problem is returning to the workforce. My husband was so controlling, manipulative, he alienated me from all of my family and friends. I could only be around who he chose. Well with that came my employment. Anytime I made a friend that would either text me at home or call me at home, it would infuriate my husband and I would be told, I would much rather you be a housewife, you will help more here than anywhere else. When I was a housewife, I had to account for every penny spent in the household, by putting all receipts in an envelope and going over everything with him at the end of the month. Then he said that I was spending “his” money wrecklessly,(which was not the case), and he took my checkbook as well as my debit card away. He started me on a weekly allowance, all the while calling me every name in the book, I would never be able to make it on my own without him, I would end up walking the streets for money, things that no one should say to anyone they love or care for, or even their worst enemy for that matter. I finally left as I said before, I do not want to go back to that, however I am at rock bottom as I have been six states away for a month now, applied for forty-nine different positions, that I was qualified for however with my gaps in employment I am overlooked. I guess what I am asking for is there anywhere mentally and emotionally broken women can receive any kind of help. I spend my days on google, however my situation nor should my resume read as I was a stay at home mom. We were not able to have children. If anyone has any advice or could point me in any direction I would so greatly appreciate it. I am afraid if I am not offered employment soon, I will be back in the same situation, miserable and things will probably be a lot worse than before. PLEASE HELP ME!!!!

  9. Sharon says:

    After years of being very unhappy I finally left my partner of 10 1/2 years 3 days ago. It feels very surreal. I have been planning this in my head for so long that the reality feels quite bizarre. I am both exhilarated and petrified. When I first met him he was the man of my dreams. The “one”. Witty, intelligent treated me like I was the only woman in the world for him. When I think back the signs were there at the beginning. Although he doesn’t have full blown narcisstic personality disorder he certainly has enough traits to make an intimate relationship with him impossible. He had the irrational rages, the egocentric “the world revolves around me”, challenging authority and rule breaking, would give me days of the cold shoulder until gave in, would never say sorry or take responsibilities. In the early stages he would ask me what did I want to do…we always ended up doing what he wanted.my sons hated him, people said they felt sorry for me. I was sad, lonely, lost my self esteem and self confidence. I also gained 30 kg in weight. He was very good at putting up a good front. We went to marriage guidance counselling when I said I was unhappy and wanted to leave. He begged me for a second chance so we went to the counselling. He twisted everything and made it like he was the victim. Said he had tried so hard to please me but I wasn’t grateful or appreciative of anything he did or said. I was to blame, not him. The counsellor bought it, hook, line and sinker. But I’m free now. Free to do what I want, free to do what I need, free to be happy..this time I won’t be turning back.

  10. A friend says:

    Hello Nicole, your story really touched me as I have left my abuser only a few days ago and was in the same situation but not for anywhere nearly as long. I would love to be penpals with you if you want to leave a way to contact you? Please dont go back, after leaving the abuse only escalates, they do it in order to regain control and keep us from leaving again.

    This process for me has been very very difficult, and painful, but I am never going to return to the hell I used to call a home.
    The empty feeling, the anxiety, and all the emotional turmoil is really horrible currently.

  11. Tracy says:

    I find myself feeling lost, dazed, confused, deep sadness, and alone. I keep questing myself why I would even entertain the idea of seeing my abuser. I have been with him for 6 years and today I have 14 days free of of him!! It’s always the same pattern. He abuses me to the point of throwing me away like a paper cup and then he comes back to CLAIM he property by saying how sorry he is, he will change, it will never happen again, he loves me more then anything in the world, he can’t make it without me…..or the crying and begging and pleading is what usually worked but not this time. I hated to see him hurt!! That is twisted. 4 night ago he came knocking and banging on every window and door of my apartment, he rang the bell over a 100 times, I was scared to move an inch and hid under my bed. ( he has pulled this one before but climbed a 6 ft fence to get to my door) I crawled on my tummy to my phone and called 911 after 30 minutes of praying he would go away and 30 minutes of hearing his voice…come’on

    baby just open the door, i come in love and peace, I know your in there Tracy open the door!! The police came and hauled him away. I want to feel personal freedom, I want to feel good about the courage it took not to let him back in, I want to feel anything but all the horrible things he told me I was……I joined a support group for battered women that starts on Sunday. I have no friends. I need a network to survive after I already survived…does that make sense? Thank you for your comments and posts. I haven’t slept but I know without a shadow of any doubt….he will abuse again and again and again. This is Factual and it’s tragic because I loved him. Today I love me more and have a zero contact order one minute at a time…

  12. Chris60 says:

    Unfortunately many people find themselves trapped in relationships with abusive and manipulative people and end up feeling used, drained, helpless and miserable. Those with a hidden agenda often appear charming at first and refuse to be accountable or resonsible for the damage they cause while pushing to gain power, control and assets at another person’s expense. Bad relationships erode your trust and the closer you feel to the abuser or exploiter, the worse you feel about deception and hurtful behaviour. Honest open relationships with fair and healthy people are difficult to find when many people feel entitled to consider their needs and wants more important than those of others and treat relationships as ways to gain more than they give. Arguments are bound to happen but cheating, deceit and constant putdowns, demands or threats chip away at trust and intimacy.

  13. Crissy says:

    I feel a huge emptiness, unexpected sadness and fear after leaving a very abusive and toxic man. I have always been so dependent on him financially. I have to “think” positive and force myself to be independent. I will not return which I did before. I will remember how bad things were and look forward to the future. I am the creator of my life so much stronger than this week helpless imposter.

  14. Penny says:

    It sucks for the person on the receiving end as it does eventually mentally do you in. I was in a relationship, never married thankfully with a controlling verbally and mentally abusive man. He cheated on me numerous times, hid things from me and was always getting drunk. Which led to even more violent outbursts. He broke many things in the house and on the house, threw whatever he could find and put holes in walls and doors. Thankfully the only physical thing he ever did to me was once hold me down by my arms and another time pull my hair. The last straw was when he had our child in tears as he was having a temper fit up to the point of being told I hate you dad. Way to young of a child to say such a thing to the parent. Then came the last proof of cheating and more damage to the house. He kept hanging around after he finally moved out, coming back to help with this or that … biggest mistake ever. That’s when I saw him pouring water into my gas tank in my car. Then when driving back to the house with him, he got hold of the steering wheel and tried to run us into a tree. Thankfully my senses told me to hold on tight and hit the brakes. It was like an eternity that was only 3 minutes long but that was the last time I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Found my strength to get a restraining order and it actually helped me heal. However, still to this day, if anyone raises their voice to me or gets smart and talks to me in a manner that resembles my past, the red flags fly and I shut down and usually I’m in tears within seconds. I wish I could be stronger but after so long, it feels as if I will never trust anyone again.

  15. Patty says:

    I just got out of an abusive relationship last Tuesday Feb 2. My boyfriend on and off for 15yrs was in a very aggressive mood that day I contacted him for emotional support as my mother was very ill..he had been there for his guy friends when they were broken down very recently so I didn’t see the harm in just hearing from someone I thought cared for me “that it will be ok” “Im here for you” instead I got I gotta go explicit words basically don’t call or text me again when he came home it became violent!!! I called the cops on him went to the ER I asked the cops 4x to file charges for me against him and take pictures of all my contusions..they just ignored me…my ex is politically involved in the city we live in and is close with all the cops… so when I asked the nurse after my xrays to please have to officers come back again take my report an pictures I found MYSELF being arrested for domestic violence and assault…I never laid a hand on this man only to hug him to try and find out what in the world I did wrong and why he was so angry at me…. it’s a week now never been arrested or in jail on top of being physically abused I am just completely beside myself…I’m seeking counseling from my family physician and took time off of work as I am so badly bruised and emotionally drained… I feel I really have no one as we had mutual friends and while I was in jail for 2 days he made me out like the worst person to walk the earth AND I STILL DO NOT KNOW WHY?? WHY DID THIS EVEN HAPPEN to begin with!!! Any support or advice would be so appreciated I’m beaten and broken down to almost nothing and do not want him to know!

  16. sheemza says:

    I love my man so much, but I feel like because of his past abusive relationship he takes his anger out on me by comparing me to his ex wife and I am not allowed to make mistakes then he threatens to leave our relationship because he can never allow a woman to miss treat him again, and I try my level best for him not see his ex when he sees me but it’s like it’s not working. What should I do to help him because I love this man with all of my heart.

  17. Love doesn’t count in this situation. Talk to his ex-wife, in secret. Find out her side of the story. I’ll bet she was not the abuser. I’ll bet he was the abuser.

    Next time he threatens to leave, let him go. I’ll bet he’ll be calling you within a day or two, trying to get back with you. That’s your sign that he is the abuser. Let him leave. Or better yet, you leave; however, I don’t sense you’re ready to do that yet.

    Keep reading about domestic violence and abuse. Educate yourself and then check the facts against his behavior. Either way, if he is abused or was the abuser, this relationship isn’t healthy for you.

  18. Teresa says:

    I left my boyfriend in March of 2015 because sometimes I believe I was the most physically and emotionally abused woman in the world and that the wounds and scars he left behind will never heal. I was literally abused on every single level of abuse that you can imagine. My abuser was clever, manipulating, and always apologetic and able to cover his tracks. I am a sweet, sincere, caring 54 yr old woman who is college educated and owned my own cleaning company; this can happen to anyone. He has robbed me of so much, hurt my family and friends, and now I fear he is stalking me and is never going to leave me alone. Like I said earlier, he is clever and can appear charming and caring but the truth is, he is the devil I believe. I moved 250 miles away from him, back home to my support team and family that he successfully alienated from for 11 yrs but I fear I have not moved enough miles away from him. My emotional scars are so bad and so deep that often I don’t have the will to move forward and its all I can do to hold my head above this drowning, emotional sink hole that I was pushed in to. Please help.

  19. Teresa, you can and will get better in time. You can still go to a domestic violence support group although you’re (thankfully) not in an abusive relationship now. Also, make individual therapy a part of your support system; if that isn’t possible, make a promise to yourself to call the NDVH weekly. Put it on your calendar, date and time. The NDVH website is http://thehotline.org

    Also, see your family doctor and tell him/her about your depression. That’s often the first step to prescription meds and psychiatrists.

    Hang in there, Teresa. You’ve done a brave thing. Now just keep doing it. <3

  20. D says:

    I was in relationship for five years and six months. I can say at start only thing I found weird was how fast he told me he was in love with me. After five months I was in love with him back and we had amazing times at the start he was such an amazing nice person who cared wanted the same things as me. Reflecting back I done all the sharing and that my friends was him gathering things to use against me. The relationship turned into emotional abuse, manipulate, control freak, sexual abuse and borer line physical. When we broke up I dumped him I had finally had enough! I did not cry for us splitting I cried because I was ashamed of myself for the things I done for him and things I allowed to be done to me a doormat! That’s us nearly a year by time may comes. I have not been on dates ect. My friends say I am not moving on. However I feel like I’m building my self esteem back up which he destroyed. Any one else feel empty though I feel like I have nothing inside like a zombie. I hang out friends I am happy but only for that time then when I’m home I feel empty again. I also feel fear when I am out praying don’t bump into him or that he contacts me I couldn’t handle it! I am still friends his brother girlfriend we became very close as we were one day going to be sister in laws as we were serious and had discussed that one day we would and have kids. Just aswell I didn’t kind of a saving grace. However he was carrot dangling me to stay. I wish I had never met him. They say we learn a lesson from relationships crap! Not any one on here deserved to be treated like this at all what’s the lesson to me it’s clear men are getting away with this shit. When I realised I was with an abuser I didn’t leave even though I used to think why do these woman stay! Until it was me and boy I left them we would be back on. It became normal to have him scream at me then go to sleep like it was normal. I am still trying to heal I just feel empty and sick to my stomache that I allowed this to happen to me. I want karma to get him good!

  21. D, your statement that you can go out and feel fine but come home and the emptiness returns concerns me. You could be experiencing depression and/or PTSD from the abuse. Therapy would reveal a diagnosis and also help you get your self-esteem back sooner.

    You sound like an intelligent young woman, and I would hate to see you stuck in this same feeling a year from now. If you get treatment fast, it’s unlikely any depression or PTSD would plague you.

    Karma will get him good, but you may not know it. Now you’re on the “outside” and see only what he wants you to see. But then again, years from now you could hear something and know he got his. <3 It’s a common wish.

    Good for you for leaving and staying away. It is quite the process, isn’t it? You’ve made the right decision. Congratulations.

  22. Haylie says:

    Mines a little different than everyone’s else. I ran back to my abuser so many times that he finally left me because first he is convinced that I’m physco and more and second he found some other girl after 3 years of being together. I know I should be happy that he’s gone and all but he still tries to wiggle his way back into my life here and there even though he has a new gf he claims to love. Which breaks my heart because he cheated on her with me but then said he regrets me and stayed with her. Idk what to do I feel so hopeless because I didn’t even leave him he basically left me and I’ve dealt with 3 years of his extreme abuse. I’m so weak I want to run back but he doesn’t even want me anymore but I obsess about him and worst of all I try so hard every time we were on and off to find someone else but no one even slightly interests me. It’s almost like I was attracted to his abuse and that really scares me. Idk what to do and I feel so worthless because of it and I know he’s never coming back and I’m worried I won’t find love. Not even being cliche I’m being serious, idk if I’ll find someone I love and what do I do about him? I hate seeing him happy with his gf thag he’s already cheated on her with me.

  23. Kathleen says:

    For Nicole,

    I was married to an abuser for 20 years. I understand. Find a local Domestic Violence support group/place and they should have resources for you. Also, ssa.gov has some information on how to get assistance. You’ve done the hardest part…you left!

  24. Cut off all contact with him. You don’t need to see him, talk to him, text him, email him or communicate via Facebook. Obsessing is natural, but you’ve got to move your mind onto other things when you start thinking of him. It will be hard at first, but with time and NOT COMMUNICATING WITH HIM it will get easier.

    Cut him off. More importantly, cut yourself off.

  25. Denise says:

    I really needed this. Today I told my abuser that I am done. I’ll be moving once I file the divorce papers. It has been emotional and verbal abuse. I can’t take it anymore. 9 years of this is affecting my health. I’m taking the kids and moving them to a healthier environment. I know it won’t be easy but I know it will be worth it.

  26. Good for you, Denise! It won’t be easy, but nothing worth it ever is. Hang in there, courageous woman.

  27. Kali says:

    I’m not sure he still need me over 34yrs we married the way he abused me emotional, physical even feel mad he treated me I never feel to be in love with him anymore I’m worried about my children only not him now, where do I start to be distance to him.

  28. angel says:

    Well people,
    Following a relationship of 16 years to my 2nd husband I finally left him for good.
    It has now been 9 months since I last had a conversation with him.
    I had left him previously 4 years ago for a few months…but we very quickly got back together via dirty tactics and stupidity on my part.
    He is an alcoholic and emotionally and verbally abusive verging on the physical. Since October 13 he wrote letters promising that he would “show” me that he could change his ways over the next 7weeks!! This didn’t happen in any way, shape or form. He had been dallying with other females, one being his ex wife…I found texts between them. His behaviour finally excalated in April 14 ..he was drunk and chased me naked around the house til the wee hours…that was enough, or so I thought. I told him….thats the end. Yes, he asked for forgiveness and another chance and he would seek counselling and see the doctor.
    I could go on forever but I’m sure you all know how it will end up. The home was my home with my 2 sons pre him and I had to leave that home…he now has it and I have been re housed …directly across the road from him. He tool no interest in the home ever ams chose to spend his free time doing as he pleased. I have lost everything, he has lost nothing ….except me! His words “the best thing that ever happened to him”.! He threw it away, threw me away and threw what should have been a beautiful life away. However, I found something which I did long ago and returned to it which he hated of course…singing. I used my pain to write songs and hid myself away from him even though we remained in the same house. I did not retort to his tactics and he slowly got worse in his drunken actions til I eventually called the police, who arrested him and took him away. That was the most peaceful 3 weeks for a long time and I wanted to take back my home then. Alas, he was allowed back home and I stayed one night, with my 18yr old son and we left the very next day. He has chased me, abused me in shops, miscalled me , told lies about me and yet declares his “love” for me. I will not look back. I have been to dark places over the past while, had no money whatsoever and have been building a house from scratch again. I have my music and though he scorned, I am about to release my first album. Take note, yes you will be lonely, yes you will be sad and yes it will be very hard, but please find something to grab onto which you love and can take you away to a happier place even for a moment. Find a chink of light and hold onto it. If I can get through this then anyone can. I have an interdict placed on him and because he is a bullying coward he will not dare break that …although if he had enough drink in him I think he may contemplate it. I am not a young strong girl…i am a 47 year old, and a good hearted person who would help anyone….there lies my problem. This has taught me to change my attitude totally and I have lost a few friends in the process…we live in a small place and I have not socialised as such for a very long time. I have grown safe to say and am now feeling a sense of peace instead of the fear and resentment, sadness or anger. I am liking looking out for me now. My boys have seen a lot and been told horrible things…but, he didn’t count on me videoing him in action. Please do this if you can. It does help. You can do it people and I am happy to be able to say I am through the dark side. He has had other women and yes that hurt terribly but they will end up like me. I am stronger and I have to thank him for that part…and that’s all. So, sorry its so long but I really wanted to pass some positive onto others. Good luck all and onwards and upwards. Have faith in YOURSELF…there is always a way forward. Love, light and much happiness for our futures and show our children how to treat someone they truly love ❤ thank you for reading and I hope it inspires even one person

  29. Michelle says:

    I found this page trying to find information about what happens after leaving a traumatizing environment such as an abusive relationship. This time of year is usually difficult for me and I often find myself feeling compelled to seek support and understanding of some of my experiences.

    I left my abusive boyfriend of 3 years in 2010 and once I was on my own and safe (relatively), my anxiety skyrocketed. I became almost completely unable to care for myself. Luckily I had a couple of great friends and a police officer that took it upon themselves to check in on me regularly (one of which I ended up marrying a couple years later actually).

    Since leaving my ex, I’ve spent some time working with young homeless women, generally from traumatic/abusive pasts, as a live-in residential coordinator at a group home. Something I’ve noticed is that in nearly every case, upon entering a safe and stable environment, anxiety and/or depression initially increases dramatically. For some it settles down again and for others it doesn’t. It took me 3 years to begin feeling myself again and now, 6 years later, I’m still struggling with the after effects but it was the first 6 – 8 months after leaving my ex that were the worst. I remember reading somewhere that this is actually fairly common but I don’t understand it and I was wondering if you or your readers could provide any insight?

    I really don’t feel I’m in a safe enough headspace right now to read the other comments so I apologize if this is already discussed.
    Thank you for taking the time to read my comment (and reply, if you do).

  30. I’ve done no research on that topic, but I have a theory. I believe that when I was in my abusive marriage, I suppressed so many feelings to “keep him happy” or stable or simply not yelling or hurting me, that when I felt safer, those feelings came out in tidal waves.

    Without the abuse in my life, I had to go through all the fears that I suppressed during the marriage. It was brutal. This period makes one doubt if she should have left at all. In reality, suppressing those feelings is so much easier than feeling them or admitting to yourself that “I was abused” and “WTF was I doing?” Self-blame, lack of confidence, humiliation, shame, … none of those feelings are deserved, but I felt them just the same.

    If you haven’t read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker, I suggest you do. The main idea is that fear is a rational reaction to terrifying events (such as abuse), but the abuser, by repeating the abuse – escalating the abuse – dumbs down our fear response.

    For example, in the beginning of my marriage, I was not afraid of him. I didn’t like what he said, but I wasn’t afraid. Then the temper tantrums started. I told myself not to be afraid because this was my husband. Then he held my face 2 inches from a burning hot stove. I packed my bags to leave, but he talked me back into the relationship. The result was that he could do far less-damaging acts of violence and I wasn’t afraid. I’d been through worse. My fear response was “dumbed down.”

    When we SHOULD be afraid, we are not. Holding fear inside causes PTSD, anxiety, depression,… a mess of mental illnesses that make it tougher to get it all together and leave.

    Anyway, that’s my opinion. Read that book – I think it could help you help your clients understand what’s happening to them. And if they understand their feelings are normal, they’re less likely to believe “I need him! I love him!” I’m sure you know all about that, too.

    Thank you for fighting the good fight.

  31. S says:

    Posting as a male who was assaulted by my ex. Was in a 4 year relationship . Was definitely unexpected when she hit me over the head with an object twice, slapped and kicked me numerous times. She just snapped. She was the sweetest, kindest woman in the world until that event. I just remember at the time asking “why?” After 4 years you could hurt me like this. Throughout the relationship, she always compared our relationship with her friends. For example, when I bought her a customized cake, flowers and planned afternoon tea, she responded by saying “So and so planned a trip to NY for his partner’s birthday.” It was impossible to please her.

    Some background: A couple years back there was a sudden death of a family member and ever since then she hasn’t been the same and refused to seek the necessary counselling. I think what triggered all her repressed anger was that I did not attend her birthday because we had already been arguing and had made promises I didn’t keep. She has apologized and finally signed up for counselling, but I still can’t be certain she’ll change not will she feel content with my attempts to make her happy. I miss her a lot, but I don’t know if we can work things out.

  32. Do what your gut tells you to do. If she’s been violent once, it’s likely to happen again. It doesn’t matter “why” – the question is “how much can I stand without losing my mental health, too?”

    You first, Mr. You can’t protect her from herself.

  33. toots says:

    I just had to report my ex to the cops as he wont leave me alone. Its the start of harrassment proceedings and an injunction. Weirdly though, the moment i did this I have started to mourn the relationship again. I don’t really get it …. its freaked me out. i see him for what he is but Im missing him again now … and feeling really upset again. I wouldn’t go back now but I dont understand my upset.

  34. Don’t freak out – mourning ANYTHING or ANYONE takes time. You can go back and forth between mourning and feeling fine for awhile – even when you KNOW you’re done with the relationship.

    You mentioned reporting your ex recently because he wouldn’t leave you alone. Was he like that during the relationship – maybe during the honeymoon period or after a blow-up? Maybe there’s some other time he pursued you in that way that wasn’t creepy at the time (but is in hindsight). It is possible this recent behavior triggered your emotions – took you back to all the times you took HIM back.

    Write out a list of all the characteristics you WANT in a partner. Write only in positive terms. For example, instead of “Someone who doesn’t yell at me,” write “Someone who handles his anger appropriately.” Make the list, and when you get upset or confused, pull it out and see if anything that you WANT matches what you HAD with your ex. Chances are, the ex won’t fit very well into what you want.

    Again, don’t freak out. It’s going to be okay. Your emotions are natural.

  35. Courtney says:

    I read this article to maybe get some help for myself..

    I was in a horrible relationship when I was 16. It’s been 6 years since then and I have been with a very lovely guy for the past 3 years.

    I just keep thinking about my ex and how much he hurt me. Physically and mentally. I still have nightmares about what he did to me and I can’t talk to my boyfriend now because he will just say get over it, it was 6 years ago.

    I don’t want to bring up the past with family and friends more because I don’t want to remind them what I went through. Councilling didn’t help. I still have scars on my body from when he hurt me and they are there everyday to remind me.

    I find myself saying sorry less to my boyfriend, i don’t flinch anymore either.. but how do I stop thinking about my ex. Some days I can’t get out of bed.

  36. Nicole says:

    Reading these comments has been an eye opener. I have just left an emotional & verbally abusive relationship a week ago (9 months together, 4 of which was living together) for good practical reasons. He was mostly verbally & mentally abusive towards my 6 year old son. But I’m feeling anxious & fearful….not for him to try to contact me but as to why we copped the abuse & keep getting intruding thoughts that I could have done something differently to curb it. The thing is, I know that’s not true. I’m usually a strong independent type & I’m mystified as to why I’m feeling this way. I’m mourning the end of a relationship, yes, & know I made the right decision. Hate feeling this way.

  37. I think you should talk to a doctor and a therapist. Abuse can cause depression, anxiety and PTSD. I’m no doctor, but it sounds like you suffer from PTSD and probably depression. You should also go to domestic violence group meetings. It doesn’t matter that you left the abuser – you can still go.

    Part of me wonders if your current boyfriend isn’t a bit like your ex. Watch for red flags and similarities between the two. If your boyfriend won’t talk to you about what you see (as he doesn’t want to talk about your past trauma), then you may be in for heartache with this one, too.

    Call the NDVH (http://thehotline.org) and speak with them. Again, it doesn’t matter that you’ve left the abuser. You can just call and say, “I left the abuse, but I still feel … ”

    None of this is your fault. The people who don’t want to hear about the past or tell you to get over it should not be in your support system. They’re unwilling to help you get better. You need people who want to see you well.

  38. Nicole says:

    This is the first time I’ve been in a domestic abuse situation, so everything that happened was new and alien to me.

    For me, Stage 1 of recognising the abuse was detaching, thinking “it’s time to get out” and you suddenly feel a sense of power that you can take control of your life. You look forward to feeling safe. I’m a pretty independent person so 3 months of living with this guy, seeing what he was capable of, was enough of a red flag to get out. My former partner was also bipolar and smoking pot, 2 things which I felt contributed to the abuse. He’d be all sweet and kind one moment, then sway towards being abusive, then back to ‘normal’ again, and act like nothing was wrong. Each verbal abuse situation was usually aimed at my 6 yr old son and ended with him threatening to kick us out of his house. My former partner would also threaten physical violence. During the shouting and swearing, I was worried the neighbours would hear the commotion and police would be called, so I feared my son would be taken out of my custody. The effect it was having on my son was traumatic. So of course I made a practical choice to leave. Who wouldn’t?

    So I was in no way prepared for Stage 2, after moving out (while he was at work). In the days afterwards I started to feel sick to the stomach. Couldn’t sleep or eat properly. Episodes of crying. The constant self-abuse of how the hell you ended up in this situation. I’ve struggled to identify why and I’d have to agree that depression, anxiety and PTSD are present even in a mild form.

    An abuser has a very warped way of looking at things. They are often narcissistic people, controlling and manipulative. They blame you for everything…….and in a strange way that even I cannot comprehend, you start to believe their behaviour was your fault. So begins the process of detaching from this theory.

    I know my son and I will make it; we are just taking things one day at a time.

    We are in a safe location, I made sure I covered all tracks so he won’t find us. I haven’t heard from him, the note I left stated to him not try to contact me. But will he eventually come looking for us? Only time will tell, and by the depth of the controlling person he is.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>