How To Recover From Emotional Trauma of Domestic Abuse
People wondering how to recover from emotional trauma really want to know how long recovery will take. Unfortunately, there is no solid time frame for recovering from emotional trauma. But, if we can slow down a minute and understand how to recover from emotional trauma, then the how long will it take part will handle itself.
How To Recover From Emotional Trauma When It Is Ongoing
If you are currently in an abusive relationship, I don't want to say you're screwed in your recovery from domestic abuse. But you kind of are. Just a little. Although there are things you can do to recoup from the day's abuses, while living with your abuser, you are continually recouping. You can't get ahead of the emotional and psychological trauma and into recovery when you live with abuse. Yes, you can have great days living with an abuser (see Holiday Madness). But they don't last forever. And for the entirety of the great day you're waiting for the abuse to happen, so it may as well happen. And it eventually does.
As you've probably noticed, when you feel good, your abuser hates it. Abusers do not like you to feel good because happy people are strong people. And strong people have enough self-esteem to leave the abuser's sorry butt. So, as long as you're living in abuse, complete recovery from emotional trauma is practically impossible and at the least, improbable.
Even so, you can recoup some of the mental health you lose each day from psychological trauma by doing things that are good for you. Try:
- Making a visit to your doctor to check for depression or anxiety
- Meditating (or using alternatives to meditation)
- Educating yourself on all aspects of abuse
- Detaching from your abuser
- Calling a domestic violence hotline to vent
- Filling out a domestic violence safety plan
- Building a network of supportive friends (online too), family members, and local domestic violence programs that include support groups
How To Recover From Emotional Trauma When You've Left Your Abuser
There are phases of recovery emotional and psychological trauma victims travel through after getting rid of their abuser. Knowing the phases will help shorten your recovery time because when you know what to expect, you feel less anxiety. And if you're dealing with less anxiety, your recovery from domestic abuse will naturally take less time.
According to the Manitoba Trauma Information & Education Centre, the three stages of emotional trauma recovery are:
- Safety and Stabilization
- Remembrance and Mourning
- Reconnection and Integration
Safety And Stabilization
First, emotional trauma victims should work to regain their feelings of safety and mental stability. Easier said than done, but still doable. What will help you feel safer and mentally stronger? You know yourself best, but here are some suggestions:
- Learn to accept and self-soothe during an emotional crisis as your emotions may bug-out on you at first.
- Pay attention to what triggered your emotional instability so you can avoid or disarm the trigger in the future.
- You might find it very hard to talk about the trauma, so work it out in different ways like meditation, yoga, drawing, writing, running. . . anything that lets your emotions come and go without words.
- That said, get into talk therapy with a professional if at all possible. There's a lot of ground you can cover without speaking of the trauma directly.
- Work to regain worthy connections with friends and family. Don't bother with relationships that diminish or discourage you in any way.
Remembrance and Mourning
Secondly, you've got to work through those memories and mourn the relationship (the relationship you thought it could become, not the relationship as it was in reality). In this phase, you will get to the point where you can discuss your feelings with a wide variety of people in your life. The point is to feel the emotion without allowing the emotion to trick you into feeling the past as if it were the present. Feeling past trauma as if it is happening now is a symptom of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
In this phase, you'll still cry or feel angry or miss the good times or any other emotion as you talk about the trauma. That's okay. No one worth spending time with expects you to be flippant about being traumatized.
If you feel your confidence in your safety or mental stability fading, regroup and slow down. Don't push yourself backward when you're trying to move forward. Ways to work through this period include:
- Maintaining the feelings of safety and stability.
- Talk talk talking.
- Journaling, drawing, painting, arts and crafts, writing or any creative activity.
- Including self-care like eating better, exercising more and paying attention to the thoughts going on in your head. Don't let your negative thoughts control you as much as possible (it's an on-going job).
Reconnection and Integration
This phase is all about releasing the trauma to the past and feeling good about the life you are creating for yourself. Your psychological trauma story no longer defines who you are; it is integrated into the story of you. Here are things you can do to aid the process of reconnection and integration after emotional trauma:
- Everyone says to volunteer and I used to hate it. I was recovering from depression too, so volunteering wasn't really an answer. So if volunteering somewhere isn't a good fit for you, find a way to teach what you've learned from the whole mess. That is the way to grow.
- Make yourself more available to meeting new people. Not lovers, but friends. You may find a lover, but if you find yourself feeling emotionally destabilized or wanting to connect with that person very quickly, then perhaps it is too soon to date.
- Decide what you want in your new life, make a plan, and go for it.
Recovering From Emotional Trauma's Time Frame
There is no time frame for moving through the phases except that it is rational to expect it someone who lived with long-term abuse for years to recover more slowly than it would for someone who experienced emotional abuse for a shorter time.
These phases make sense to me. I would say I'm between two and three because I still remember more often than I'd like, but I am working on reconnecting and integrating into this new life. How much time has passed for me? 5 years. I lived with my abuser for just under 18 years.
One more thing about my healing process. I think this last phase will be the longest. It might last the rest of my life, as long as the abusive relationship did or exactly one more minute. I don't know. But I'm okay with that. One step forward, two steps back; I'm okay with that, too.
I can give you only the time frame I know, which is my own. I would tell you how long it will take to recover if I could. Whatever you do, don't hurry the process. Be like Shrek and think of yourself as an onion - peel away layer after layer until you reconnect with the core of who you are.
Holly, K. (2015, May 31). How To Recover From Emotional Trauma of Domestic Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2015/05/how-to-recover-from-emotional-trauma-of-domestic-abuse
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
I continued to work out and after each work out I felt better and better and before I even realized I looked and felt better then I ever have in my whole life. I am Still training, but I’m one test away from becoming a personal trainer full degree!
I realized that if I found peace and happiness threw fitness maybe I can help others. I don’t want to just help people lose weight but I want to develop a program to empower domestic violence survivors. Not victims but warriors. We did not ask for it or deserve any of it. We do not control others emotions or their physical responses. They make that choice and they have to live with them selfs. The only ones that matter are you. Because you can’t be there for anyone if your not there for you first. I’m a mother of a beautiful strong smart 14yr daughter and I train with her 3-5 days a week. We work threw our stressors and everyday life stress threw fitness. (Bonding time)
I’ve never been so proud and I’ve given her tools to use for the rest of her life. It wasn’t just me that went threw the pain. Right?
So i will get to my point, if you have any insight or help to help me on my journey I’d greatly appreciate it. Books/ links/ so forth
I’d love to help others find their inner strength and become healthier happier people. If I did it, I know I can help someone else. I firmly believe that hormonal response and psychological Issues are deeply connected that trigger effects in our lives that can help with recovery. If I can tune into that I can build something great. I’m so close but, now I’m reaching out. Thank you for reading my story and look forward to hearing from you.
<a href="https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/domestic-violence/how-to-report-domestic-violence-domestic-abuse-and-hotlines/" target="_blank" rel="noopener nofollow">How and When To Report Abuse</a>
<a href="https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/" target="_blank" rel="noopener nofollow">Hotline Numbers</a>
I was sexually assaulted by my ex wife partner who abused me for 7 years.
I’ve forgotten who I am!
Love and peace
The Thrifty Hippie ✌️
Confused. Sad. Depressed. Alone. Lying to everyone how it happened.
After 17yrs of hiding, blaming myself, seeking help thinking it was me discovered it wasn't. Few understand there's nothing "simple" about assault, domestic abuse at all. Abusers often still hunt others down. Living with them you at least know where they are. [Which I'm not suggesting to take that route] moving to another country all I could think of in mine to escape. Get well. Not realistic for many.
Don't blame yourself at all. Ever. Not ok what happened to you.
Well done for sharing what you're going through. I'm very troubled to hear of it, however, and would urge you to contact the <a href="https://www.nccafv.org" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence</a>. There is a hotline number on the website you can call.
Please know that you are not alone in what you're going through. There are people out there who know what to do, and they will help to keep you and your mother and sister safe.
You will be OK. But you shouldn't go through this alone.