I used to know a lady some years back who was one of my neighbours in the university. I became friends with her after we sat close to each other during a general course and we got chatty. Prior to this particular day, we only said ‘’hi’’ each time our paths crossed in the neighbourhood we both lived. She was dating a fellow student whom I later got to know was in the habit of physically manhandling her at the slightest provocation.
On one particular evening, while preparing for her birthday the following day, she’d invited me on phone over to her room to assist her with the planning for the next day. In the next 15 minutes or so, I’d arrived at her place with my other two friends, Ekin and Sirod. We noticed she had dark glasses on even though it was almost dark and there was no need for such.
After some exchange of pleasantries to inquire how far she’d gone with the preparation, we discovered that she’d a little misunderstanding earlier with her school boyfriend who descended on her heavily like a Lion on its prey, leaving her with a black eye.
Before then, I have been hearing, reading stories and watching films on how violent some people could be to their partners but never seen any. This was actually my first time. Anyway, after narrating to us what happened, we all asked her how long has this been going on, of which she said right from when they started dating, hmmmm.
An evening meant for preparation turned out to be one for dashing and dishing out advice for her for the urgent need to leave that relationship immediately. This was the year 2008. I bumped into her sometime in September this year and while discussing and trying to catch up old times, she told me she hasn’t gotten over the traumatic experience of her abusive university relationship and she feels all men are the same.
Her relationship with her abusive ex came to an end in 2014 (six years after) and not the evening we spoke to her, surprising right? Yes, most people in an abusive relationship always find it as herculean task to leave such relationship. Got to know her mother was constantly physical abuse by her dad and as kids they saw it as a normal thing, hence the reason she found it hard leaving her boyfriend in school.
As we may know, the pain of ending an abusive relationship is one that most people view as terrible, traumatic and heart wrenching, especially for people who are considered to be very emotional at heart. While it may last for few weeks, months or even years for some people, many do not recover from it and will quickly point to it as a reference to any situation that has to do with relationship. Truth is, every one of us is unique in the different ways we heal after a break up from our partner.
Sometimes a break-up may come along with a sense of relief, especially when you were in an abusive relationship which constantly got you sad with your life. On the other end, the feelings of anger, sadness, fear, lack of confidence etc., may also come along with a break up with you not knowing how to gather the pieces of your life in one piece.
Truth is, it is very normal to have some of these feelings and thoughts after a break up especially one who was in abusive affair, but what happens after that is the question one should ask herself.
- Do you get stuck in your shell and refuse to move on like my friend’s story?
- Do you hate yourself for being in that relationship in the first place?
- Do you see yourself lacking self-confidence to try another relationship?
- Has your world crumbled and may never be arranged?
- Or what really?
Life is a journey and the topic of the heart is one on many topics on its list. It is one you can never run away from as you grow older. You might feel as though your world has turned upside down and that things will never be good again. The strength of your feelings might be overwhelming. You might cry, feel restless, or have less motivation or energy to do things. Your appetite is lost and sleep might even elude you from constant thinking.
From research, 1 in 4 women are victims of domestic violence (if married) or in an abusive relationship and in this part of the world where I come from, victims of abusive relationship or marriage (even though its gathering momentum and people are speaking about it now) has always been treated as private affairs between people which need no intervention from a third party or the authorities.
One thing I have noticed is that most people especially women find it difficult to cope or recover after a breakup from an abusive relationship. Healing after a breakup or a breakup healing process can take long time depending on the individual because there is no one way to feel or heal after you leave an abusive relationship.
A breakup means the undoing of a merging, which is painful to go through. One of the most painful parts of a breakup is that it up-ends things as you’ve come to know them.
So, in what ways can one recover after leaving an abusive relationship?
As we may know, the decision to leave is not one that is as simple as reciting your kindergarten abc. It takes courage, determination and guts. But when you finally pull the plug, no matter where you fall from the ladder, what's most important is that you must find a way to bounce back to being your real self and not getting stuck in one position feeling helpless or hopeless, sorry for yourself.
1. Congratulate yourself first for leaving that abusive relationship
As stated in the last paragraph, it’s a tough decision to make but once taken, it will only be a good idea to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself congratulation for display of such courage. You have to feel yourself. Also, you have to forgive yourself for the trauma you must have gone through and endured. Then proper healing after an emotionally abusive relationship should be the next item on your agenda.
2. Cut off all forms of communications with your abuser
There is a 100% assurance that your abuser would try to get in contact with you almost immediately after the breakup, so it’s advisable for you to if possible change all your lines and take a break from all internet social activities you usually get in touch with him/her. You can unfollow your abuser on twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, BBM, WhatsApp etc., you are trying to gain emotional strength at this period so anything that will hinder you should be discarded. Your focused goal is to heal.
3. Build back your self-esteem and confidence
Most individuals in an abusive relationship usually lose their confidence and self-confidence. They find it hard to even believe in themselves anymore. Even though building your self-esteem is one of the most difficult things to do, one should learn to slowly get the confidence in her and this doesn’t come quick. It is important you work on it daily just the same way a student prepares for a graduation examination in a few weeks.
4. You are not alone, meet with a support group.
Meeting with others who have been in the same shoes like you will give you that needed emotional support to discuss, clear your mind and free your fears. Sharing your problems and hearing other people’s stories go a long way in strengthening you. A support group will you develop coping mechanism and reduce your thinking.
Sometimes in a support group session, you get to know your story isn’t as horrible as others. You also get to meet experts who are therapists to help your recovery process.
5. Always speak positively (to) about yourself
Your happiness lies in your hands and you alone must make yourself feel good and happy. Encourage yourself with positive words and remind yourself of how beautiful or pretty you look or how you deserve someone better.
6. Surround yourself with positive people.
Anyone who is healing after emotional abuse needs positive friends who can bring life to their faces at such time. No one needs pity party kind of friends around during this period but those who will motivate, inspire, encourage and strengthen you.
7. It’s a period for self-renewal.
One’s breakup healing process should also serve as a period to critically reflect on yourself. You do this by giving yourself lots of time to think about yourself rather than thinking about your abuser while the relationship lasted.
Remember that, when you are involved in a relationship, the other person receives your attention and focus, so why not redirect such attention to yourself now that the relationship is ended? Do what will make you happy, get involved in all kinds of physical and mental activities that will recharge yourself.
Go to movies, musical concerts etc. What I mean is being single is an opportunity for you to connect with areas of your life that have been neglected as a result of the relationship.
8. Don’t give up on dating.
A major negative goal of an abusive relationship is that it can produce injuries that last far beyond the termination of the relationship which may hinder the person involved from entering into another one after healing. It is a situation which can be best described as the past haunting the present.
Know that it is possible to reconnect and have a healthy relationship after an abusive or violent relationship. It is proper that one sees herself as a survivor and no longer is a victim. This is the first step in creating healthier relationships.
READ ALSO: NAIJ.com launches Nigerian blogger network
9. Finally, Know that A break up is an ending not a rejection and definitely, not the end of your life.
*** Readers should know that anyone could be the victim in a relationship. Even though it is lower in number and percentage, there are known cases where men have been reported victims of abuse by their female partners globally.
*** Domestic violence and abuse are crimes under the law, DO NOT KEEP QUIET about it.
This article was written by the NAIJ.com partner blogger Brenda.
Brenda is a lifestyle, health and inspiration blogger.
She is the owner of www.brendascouch.com
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Naij.com.
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