How to Start Healing After Experiencing Domestic Violence
Healing from the trauma of domestic violence can be challenging. You may experience feelings of fear, numbness or other upsetting and traumatic emotions. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we want you to remember that you are not alone. Through counseling and support groups for domestic violence survivors, you can begin on a healing journey. Continue reading to learn more about how you can start to heal after experiencing domestic violence.
What is Domestic Violence?
Also known as domestic abuse, domestic violence is a dire scenario involving intimate partner violence; it can be defined as behavioral patterns in any relationship used to gain control or power over the other partner. The abuse can include mental, verbal, sexual, emotional, economic and physical threats or actions to a partner.
Some or all of these behaviors can occur and can make someone feel:
Contrary to popular belief, domestic abuse can happen in any relationship, regardless of age, race, faith, gender, sexual orientation or class. And although most domestic abuse cases refer to an intimate partner, it is considered domestic abuse if it is abuse towards anyone living in the same household, including children.
Unfortunately, many people have experienced abuse in their lifetime. According to the CDC, one in four women and one in seven men will experience physical violence by their intimate partner at some point during their lifetimes. In addition, intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking also often occur, with intimate partner violence occurring in over 10 million people each year.
Am I Currently Being Abused or Have I Been Abused?
Sometimes discovering you are being abused may not be as black and white as the situation may initially seem. Most of the time, physical abuse is more straightforward to detect than mental abuse. However, it is necessary to point out that both are equally traumatic.
Ask yourself the following questions about your partner:
- Do they often make fun of you in front of family and friends?
- Downplay your accomplishments?
- Make you feel stupid, less than or not worthy or able to make decisions?
- Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance?
- Make statements like “You’re nothing without me”?
- Act rough with you — such as hitting, pushing or grabbing?
- Constantly call or text you and get aggravated when you don’t respond right away?
- Trust issues like continually needing to know where you are and what you’re doing?
- Pressure you sexually?
- Blame you for everything that doesn’t go according to plan?
- Try to keep you isolated from friends and family?
- Make you feel like you cannot escape the relationship?
Now, ask yourself the following questions about yourself:
- Do you sometimes feel scared of how your partner is/will behave?
- Constantly make excuses for your partner’s behavior?
- Avoid anything you may think would make your partner angry, even if it may be something you’d enjoy?
- Always put your partner first, no matter what?
- Stay with your partner because you’re scared of what they may do if you leave them?
If you feel or experience any or a combination of the situations above, you may be experiencing abuse. Domestic violence tends to escalate, so if you see signs of abuse or believe you are being abused, it is vital to seek help and leave the relationship as soon as possible. Severe abuse cases can end in serious injury, or sometimes, death.
Recognizing the Triggers and Effects
Once you’ve escaped your abuser, the abuse may still haunt you. Healing after experiencing domestic violence does not happen overnight, but it is possible. First, it’s essential to recognize your triggers and the effects the abuse may still cause. These effects may range from difficulty sleeping and eating, panic attacks and anxiety, low self-esteem and substance use. They can be triggered by memories or situations that may cause you to remember your abuser and/or the abuse. For example, if a particular bar or meal makes you think of your abuser, try to avoid it or any other triggers to minimize the effects.
Embrace Your New Freeing Life
Although you were abused, it’s normal to feel sadness or loneliness, just as anyone may experience after a breakup. But it’s important to stay positive and remind yourself that you are better off without that person. A great way to do this is by positively affirming yourself and staying active. Positive affirmations drive positivity and break the negativity that victims are used to hearing. Reminding yourself things such as “I am worthy,” “I am enough,” “I love myself,” and so on can help break the inner negativity you feel and help make yourself whole again.
Furthermore, staying active, whether working out, taking daily walks, journaling, reading, arts and crafts, meditating and more, can all keep your mind and body busy. This will help minimize the time you have to replay the trauma in your head constantly.
Start the Road to Healing With a Helping Hand (or Two)
Healing from the trauma of an abusive relationship can be challenging. You may experience feelings of fear, numbness or other upsetting emotions after leaving an abusive relationship. Reliving the trauma or expressing your feelings to a professional may seem like a daunting, uncomfortable task, but do not be afraid to ask for help.
Remember, you are not alone. Through counseling and support groups for domestic violence survivors, you can begin on a healing journey. Finding a safe and secure professional to talk to is critical in the path to your healing.
Healing After Domestic Violence | Seneca Health Services
It’s critically important to remember that no one deserves to be punished or abused, no matter the circumstances. No one deserves to be abused. You are beautiful; you are enough. And as much as you may have been told, always remember, you did not cause the abuse.
We want you to know that we are here for you at Seneca Health Services. You are not alone in this journey. We have therapists certified in various types of therapy, including trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, which can assist our patients in coping with a traumatic experience. When a patient enters our therapy services, they will find compassion, companionship, understanding and so much more. If you need help or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the Seneca office nearest you or use the link provided here.
Greenbrier County, West Virginia: (304) 497-0500
Nicholas County, West Virginia: (304) 872-2659
Pocahontas County, West Virginia: (304) 799-6865
Webster County, West Virginia: (304) 847-5425