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Overcome the Effects of Abuse

How Abuse Effects Its Victims

One of the hardest things to look at during or after an abusive relationship is the mental and emotional damage the abuse caused in us. We remember who we were before the abuse and may feel like a sad shell of that person after it. It is scary and heart-breaking. You may feel more defenseless, helpless and hopeless than before you knew your partner abused you. After all, now you fight your mind as well as the abuse your (ex) partner inflicts.

You will never change your partner. You are already their target for abuse, and once you are the target it is difficult if not impossible to change back into “you” in their eyes. However, you can change yourself. You can change your thoughts, your feelings, and the way your brain is wired. But remember, although “change” is something that can happen to you, if you want to heal from abuse, change must be something you DO.

Whether you’re still in the abusive relationship or out of it, the idea of “doing” anything may seem overwhelming. You experienced trauma. Your emotions are worn out. Your brain hurts. Fear takes over your thoughts and feelings. You feel as if you’ve used all of your strength and can’t do one more thing. Other people can do a lot to help you, but no one can take away the pain and fear but you.Your support network can stand beside you, encourage you, help you to grow. But they cannot do the hard work of changing you into the person you want to become.

How to Overcome the Effects of Abuse

Convince Your Heart

The effects of abuse can be devastating but you can overcome the effects of abuseAfter realizing you are abused, the first challenge you face is convincing yourself that your abuser will not change. You “know” it from the books you’ve read, but there’s a difference between knowing it in your head and knowing it in your heart. Your brain cannot convince your heart of anything – your heart must get on board with your brain for the process to work. Here are a couple of ways I nurtured my aching heart along:

I translated my abuser’s garbage talk – I heard my husband say, “You are making my sons weak! You’re turning them into lesser men than me!” but I listened to my brain. My brain said, “He wants to manipulate me by using our children. He wants me to believe my parenting hurts our boys. I know these are lies. He wants me to take them out of therapy so he regains control over their thinking.”

I watched what he did instead of taking to heart what he said – Promises to change, promises to remember my birthday next year, promises to spend more time with our boys. All broken. Only words. I wrote down what he promised, leaving space for the date he broke that promise. The only promise he never broke?…“I will not change.”

Take on Your Fear

You will be afraid. You will fear the future, your partner, and that you won’t be able to do what your heart says to do. You must face those fears, erase as many as you can with plans, and step forward believing you are doing the right thing for you.

You can use “trust in yourself” as an antidote to fear. They’re similar emotions – at this point you don’t know for sure if either of them are justified, so it makes sense to pit them against each other. You can trust in yourself to do the best possible thing if the unexpected happens just as easily as you can fear the unexpected.

Write out a safety plan and indulge in the “What-If Game” – Fear feeds on the question “What if…?” Show fear you’ve got what it takes to overcome it. Here’s a sample conversation with myself:

What if he stalks me? … Then you will document when and where you see him, hear him, or run into him. You will collect evidence for a restraining order.

What if the restraining order makes him more dangerous? … You will assume he will be more dangerous after receiving the order. While gathering your evidence, you will notice where you are most vulnerable and make plans for how to decrease your vulnerability.

What if he is hiding in my car? … Girl, you will always check your car (underneath and inside!) before you get into it.

What if I don’t see him and he slits my throat? … Er hem. How would you not see him? Lights off in the garage? Turn them on. He’s hiding under a blanket? Don’t leave blankets in the car. Girl, the only way he’s going to slit your throat in your car is if you don’t do your safety checks! (The “What-If” game ends and you make a checklist for safety before getting into your car.)

Not getting a restraining order because you think your partner might slit your throat is … backwards. Fear makes you do backwards things. Facing fear head on keeps you safer and more in control if the bad things happen.

Convincing your heart and challenging your fears go a long way toward ending the effects of abuse on your mind and heart. These steps help you to detach from your abuser whether you still live with them or not. Detachment, or objectively viewing your relationship with your (ex) abuser, helps you regain control of yourself.

Listen to your abuser’s words with your brain, keep track of their broken promises, and challenge your fear with solid planning. You can do this. There are more tricks you can use to soothe the pain – How did you overcome disbelief and fear?

Sign up for Kellie’s newsletter, follow her on twitter, Google+ or join the conversation on Facebook. “My Abusive Marriage…and what i’m doing in it”, Kellie’s book about deciding to stay or leave her abusive marriage is available now.

14 thoughts on “Overcome the Effects of Abuse”

  1. The person who verbally abused me is my mother. When I was little, there was always some verbal criticism, always something negative about me. As an adult I talked to her about it and she apologised, but to me, I still feel the effects in my low self esteem. My mother’s apology was a good thing, but I still distance myself from her, because it came about 25 years too late for the effects to be reversed. I will never fully trust or forgive her. I simply don’t think about it anymore, but the mother-daughter relationship she wants us to have will never happen because instead of setting up a loving bond from the beginning, she spent my formative years berating, criticising, insulting, ignoring and belittling me, offering no love or comfort to offset the damage she was doing to my sense of self.

  2. My son who is 38 embezzeled 44,000 out of my trust account and lied about it then confessed he had taken the money. I was left pennyless and homeless and lost everything. I now need a lawyer to get the bank records to proceed.The bank manger is glad to cooperate when a lawyer request bank records This happened IN BC Canada, Help needed

  3. I love you idea of the what if game. It allows the person to play out every possible situation they can think of, and plan a way to get out of it. It also helps the Victim take control back into their hands.

  4. I’m currently in a relationship where calling me names like *b%$#H* and slut, is “ok” to him in the mist of an argument. I’m tired of being treated this way, not to mention he has cheated on me numerous times(one being our co-worker). I found out about all his indisgrstions when I was eight months pregnant, which left me devastated. I do love him/ want my WHOLE FAMILY, but I also want to be happy. Being 22 and losing my father to a sudden heart attack, I imagined my life soo diffrently. I need advice PLEASE!!!

  5. I was assigned the scapegoat role in my family at age 4, and endured a lot of verbal and emotional abuse as well. Secretive abuse that doesn’t leave physical scars so things look fine on the outside. As a child you have nothing to compare to, so you accept that you deserve to be treated like that. And then later in life, you’re “blind” going into relationships–unable to see you’re being abused until it’s too late. Even now, standing up for myself and helping myself feel unnatural and uncomfortable, but I force myself to do it.

  6. I have taken a lot of garbage from [my abuser – name removed by admin]. He keep s lieing that he goes on naked lady website’s. The last time was enough, I grabbed Hes clothes and throw it down.
    Then he throw me on the floor. I was devastated, and called 911.
    The police came and put him outside with the police. I told the police what happened.
    They asked me if I wanted to arrested. I was doubtful and scared. I said that I don’t want to arrested. Then he came and brang his family.
    I thought we could talk but he decided to make me more scared. He left cold and said ,you called the police. I feel damaged and ugly for what he did. I don’t know how to get over this and feel ver insecure and depressed. Also he said that those girls on those sights look better then me.
    What do I do about it? Thank you

  7. Thank you for this atricle.
    I have been in a verbally abusive relationship for nearly 5 years and its finally come to an end. I found that the hardest part for me is rediscovering myself. I feel as if i am not anywhere near the person i was. After hearing i was a fat, ugly, sloppy, bitch, hoe, bad mom, and every other name under the sun , it began to take a toll on me. I am a fiery strong individual and i just rolled it off my shoulders in the beginning, slowly but surely i began to wonder am i really this horrible person? I began to let it get to me. I know I am a great mother and a beautiful person, i know in my head i am none of those things. But it still effected me, my self esteem withered away. Now i am at a point where i need to find my spunk again and reclaim myself. I do not want to identify as a victim, i want to simply be myself. A new start is hard but it is necessary when your partner is unwilling to change. I waited 5 years for it to change and it never did. If you feel manipulated, put down, unappreciated, & walk on egg shells, then do yourself a favor and leave. Its hard, but like the article said, the what ifs can be answered with a solution. I just got out of the situation, and a huge weight has been lifted off my chest, and i feel as if i can truly begin to heal and be myself. Yes i may cry, you get used to a lifestyle with someone but i know i can do it! I did it before them and im older and wiser and i can do it now!!! & so can you. Uplift yourself every chance you get, anytime you start putting yourself down counteract it!!!! Dont become your own abuser. I struggled with this and eveytime i doubt my self im right there with all the reassurance i need. You are your biggest cheerleader! Good luck ladies i hope this article helped you, as it did me.

  8. Jackie you just described the exact situation I got out of a few days ago. The feeling is still raw. He called me fat, a slob, every curse word under the sun and names I can’t even repeat. Why do I still love this person? I need to move on I know this but I need help.

  9. I was in a abusive relationship. Even after we broke up. The rat lied & cheated on me from the start. Used me for money & Sex like I was a whore. Told me to put money in his letter box if I wanted him to be my friend. I had to bring him smokes. I was called everything under the sun for no reason. All I done was call him. It became such a big issue. The guy is a ice, gambling, alcoholic, lying, cheating, junkie. I lost my family, friends, job, money, self respect & dignity. He would tell me to go to his house & not shower then not answer the door & then an hour later send me a msg to F off. Called me a stalker but told me to go to his house. The rat put me down & made me beg & chase him. Told me he wants to be a player coz he misses being a player. Should’ve told me that from the start before he used & abused me.

  10. I have been in two bad relationships the first one I had two kids to him and verbally physically and emotionally abuse me and I tried to just hide it all in for my kids and had a pda put on him then my place started being destroyed and I had nosey neighbors and they started to involve thereselves because the one guy had the hots for me and before you know it they wiped my house clean and there relations moved in and also had a marriage planned out for me and all and then someone had the pda removed from my past relationship and the second man did the same thing to be I have became homeless quite a few times lose lots of years of my life and still having problems seeing and talking to my kids lost custody of both of my kids first my oldest then my youngest and had moved everytime because of abuse dither from my kids and scared half to dealth to put a pfa on both of them and in what so called a marriage and with the first realtionship to they both have cheated on me . and filed a for a divorce years ago and still has not been final

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