Many people mistakenly think that recovery from a domestically violent situation is as simple as leaving the abuser. Unfortunately that is far from the reality that individuals recovering from abuse face. In fact, by the time the individual is able to find physical freedom from the abusive party, he or she is likely in a gridlock of mental and emotional abuse. However, recovery is also possible in this capacity if an individual is able to find the right support system and develop effective coping skills to navigate healing.
What to Expect During Recovery
Recovery in any form is challenging, but it is especially complicated when abuse is involved. Individuals often need to relearn basic interpersonal and relational skills, such as trust and connection, which they’ve lost as a result of the abuse they have endured. Understanding that recovery will take time goes a long way toward helping the individual recover, as does knowing what to expect during recovery. Most individuals benefit from:
• Learning to expect new feelings during the recovery process.
• Understanding the challenges that may complicate recovery.
• Developing coping techniques to facilitate lasting recovery.
Recovering from Domestic Abuse
Recovering from a domestically violent situation requires a multifaceted approach. To begin the process, one must understand that anxiety and fear are to be expected. Many victims of abuse:
• Still hear the voice of their abuser in their head even after leaving.
• Experience extreme anxiety when doing something the abuser condemned.
• Have feelings of sadness and or even a desire to return after leaving the abuser.
• Feel fear and melancholy associated with a place of significance to the relationship.
• Want to maintain a connection to friends or family members of the abuser.
These feelings point to the emotional attachment of the relationship and are normal and to be expected. An individual experiencing these feelings may consider returning to the abusive situation to make the current feelings of fear and pain subside. To be able to remain strong and committed to recovery, the individual needs:
• Refuge that is safe and separate from the abuser.
• Support from a trusted friend or family member.
• Legal support to provide protection and counsel.
• Self-confidence to remain strong and move on.
For many individuals finding each of these components can be difficult. Seeking the counsel of a trusted therapist is often an effective first step toward recovery. A mental health professional can help the abused individual find the resources that he or she needs to begin the recovery process safely and facilitate ongoing therapy to support the individual’s mental and emotional needs. Most individuals recovering from domestic violence process the emotional trauma of the situation in a cyclical fashion that involves several stages:
• Safety and Stabilization
• Remembrance and Mourning
• Reconnection and Integration
• Safety and Stabilization
Working through these stages and processing the emotions associated with each is no easy task. Likewise, there is no timeframe associated with recovery – each individual must allow him or herself the time he or she needs to recover. A confidential healthcare professional can help facilitate the process and help the individual set appropriate expectations of recovery. So while the recovery process looks different for different people, the first step for everyone reaching out and getting help.