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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.

15 thoughts on “Overcome the Effects of Abuse”

  1. You are exactly right. I am a former Family Law Clerk and should have known better. It took me 2 years to get out of the mess and a huge financial loss. Back on my own safe and sound Going forward is the only way to be happy.

  2. Ladies and Gentlemen, I have been a victim of abuse, I tolerated it for four (4) years hoping he would change, but it doesn’t change, it just gets worse. You’re the one that has to change, you have to realize that being mistreated, disrespected and abused is not LOVE. He/she will put a hell of a spin on it, make you think maybe you are at fault, but don’t believe it. Don’t walk, RUN and do not look back….and please when you decide to move on and walk away do NOT LET HE OR SHE KNOW IT, JUST DO IT. Once you have gone, give yourself the best life possible, remember the best revenge is SUCCESS, build yourself up, be good to yourself. I know you will remember good times you had with him or her, but you were dealing with their representative, not the real person,. think about it, if your loved one showed you his or her true colors in the beginning you would not have given a second look. They know this, that’s is how they get us. Be strong, you know what feels right and wrong. Find your strength and move on. God bless……

  3. Back in high school for on and off about a year or two I was in an emotionally abusive relationship. It started out small, getting me to ignore my friends, talk to him 24/7, and make him my only companion. then it got worse telling me about how other girls were more attractive than me, what girls he would date if we broke up. I know most would say thats crazy you should have left then, but thats the issue, I never wanted to be one of “those girls” the ones who are jealous of every girl sadly thats honestly what I’ve become. He started cheating oh me with one of my good friends, told me, and told me it was my fault. If I tried breaking up with him he’d threaten suicide and going as far as to show me the scars where he cut himself. I didn’t want him to die and i didn’t want his death on my hands so i’d take him back. If we fought he’d grip my arm tightly and yank me back, he’d back me into walls, and at one point held me down so tightly it took all my strength to get away. I was able to break up with him for awhile and begged my friends to help but all of them shrugged it off and left me to fend for myself, he later cornered me in the courtyard and tried to kiss me. He yanked me out of my classroom once and my teacher thankfully stepped in. In the end I got away but i still am trying to fix issues I have from it even after that relationship i’ve had several ex’s cheat on me making my paranoia of women around my bf horrible i’m insanely jealous for fear of being cheated on again, I’m quick to verbally fight if a bf says something to make me feel hurt, accidentally or not, and will be upset for a few days about it, I have a bad habit of talking 24/7 to a bf and though I try not to I’m so used to it it’s hard to stop. I know I’m not fully better but i’m better than I was after first leaving. Im afraid i’ll never find normal since i really don’t know how normal works.

  4. I left also from a very dangerous relationship, Got beat every day for nearly eight year’s… Believing i could change a person and make them love me that dosent happen, you cant change anyone you can only change yourself and your situation… If a man hits you one time just once,
    One time LEAVE! It only get’s worse from there it will continue to happen, it dosent change i promise whoever is reading this that! I have to walk around in fear all day long have anxiety problems out of this world now, I Think everyone is my enemy… What did help me alot is getting back into keeping god’s word i try to read it as often as possible everyday, That’s really been a HUGE HELP TO ME… And putting no one before him, He give’s us his word to keep us safe and out of harm’s way, We should trust in him and not our own feeling’s. This world is dangerous he tells us how to cope in an evil world and stay safe, he also heal’s the broken hearted… Start trusting him today so he can completly heal you mentally, and emotionally, Abuse like the article say’s hurt’s your mind and heart let god heal it today!

    1. Oh my gosh. Thank you so much. I am in the aftermath of severe emotional and some physical abuse. Knowing that God’s word will help my mind heal is something I’ve been thinking. Hearing you confirm that made me know I have hope if I turn to him and trust him for intuition and wisdom and healing. I hope you are doing well. I am going to pray for you sister. Much love to you.

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