You have escaped the cage
your wings are stretched out
I’m Out! Now what?
Recovering and Finding Yourself After Abuse!
A word I use a lot in my group is, Process! It has now become somewhat a word that makes the ladies that have been coming for several months laugh a little because I say it so much. I use this word a lot because it is the right word for the journey these women are on.
You just can’t skip from the beginning to the end. It would be nice if it was that simple. If it was that simple, I wouldn’t need to lead this support group. These women would just get out away from the abuse and than be happy and healthy.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Survival from abuse is a really tough journey. In the end though, the reward for all the hard work and perseverance is worth it.
I say work and perseverance because when someone escapes abuse, it is after they have hit the bottom. In many cases they have been on the bottom for some time and finally got the support and the courage to break away.
After the external danger is gone, and the abuser is (at least physically) out of the picture, the survivor’s internal journey is only beginning. Surprisingly, parts of it can be tougher and more painful, in a way, than the suffering they endured at the hands of their tormentor. While certain wounds are healing, different ones erupt, no only endangering recovery but also making the survivor wonder is getting out was really worth it.
This is one reason it takes the average survivor of intimate partner violence seven times to leave for good. It’s also one reason most people have no idea why it takes so long to heal. This is where the perseverance is greatly needed.
Here are 5 areas that are a struggle after abuse!
1. Learning to see yourself as God sees you!
Something as simple as looking in the mirror and speaking truth to yourself can be very difficult but is very powerful. Many victims of abuse can only look in the mirror and see the person that their abuser has told them they are.
For years they have been told lies about themselves until it has caused them to believe those lies. Their identity has been “victim” and they no longer know who they truly are.
By beginning to choose to believe what God says about you, it will change the way you see yourself and reject the lies that you have been told by your abuser. This takes work but you will learn to become a “Victor” and no long define yourself as a victim.
2. Walking away from what you believed was love.
No matter how you look at it, this means heartbreak. Loss of innocence, shattered hopes and dreams. How can you pine for someone who hurt you? How can you long to return even though you know it’s the worse possible thing you can do? Because you didn’t want to let go of love, or what you convinced yourself was love, or what some part of you still sees as a chance for love.
Your feelings don’t change the second you decide you can’t live with a person. You may flip from love to hate, but the intensity is no different, and in many cases, you (or a part of you that you hate) may still love that person, even though you know he is unhealthy and unsafe. You wanted it to be better, not over. You had no choice and yet, your choice was terrifyingly difficult.
This is a very real struggle. By gaining knowledge about abuse, getting support (from other ladies that have been there) and not engaging with your abuser, you will grow stronger each day. You will begin to see truth and learn that nothing about abuse is Love!
1 Corinthians 13 4-8
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It dos not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
3. Learning “Healthy” comping strategies:
You learned every trick to try to keep your abuser happy, or at least to avoid triggering his rage. You learned to be submissive and silent, to second or even third guess yourself, to start every sentence with “I’m sorry.” You learned to walk around minefield and stay out of the line of fire. To tiptoe around insecurities, walk delicately on eggshells, and act as if part of you, (your needs, desires, dreams) didn’t exist.
You learned to diminish your own value, and to accept utterly unacceptable treatment. Everything you went through to keep to keep yourself and perhaps your children safe from harm is staggering.
By learning to see yourself as God sees you, getting support and gaining knowledge about abuse, you will learn how unhealthy these coping skills are. You will become healthier and stronger and you will learn to set healthy boundaries for yourself.
4. Choosing to Forgive yourself and let go of “Why?”!
You obsessively try to understand why you got into an abusive relationship? What is it about you that made you vulnerable, what was it about your abuser that seemed so incredibly appealing. You blame your childhood, your abuser’s childhood … and yourself again and again.
This is a vital step in gaining healing from abuse and becoming a victor. It can be very difficult to face. Forgiving yourself is not a feeling, it is a choice. Read more about forgiveness here. By choosing to forgive yourself for allowing this relationship and for every little detail of pain and what you went through, you will gain peace, healing, power and freedom.
Getting the answer to all your questions is just not going to happen. The truth is, you were deceived and manipulated and beat down. You were a victim!
By letting go of having to know why, while looking forward and learning from that experience, you will gain more freedom from it.
“I could have made a healthier choice, but I didn’t, and that is OK. I lost a lot but I’m going to be OK. I’m going to be OK, and I’m going to move on.”
5. Believing that you are loved and learning to love yourself again.
When you hate yourself for what you feel you allowed to happen to you, it’s hard to believe God loves you or love yourself. Love wasn’t exactly encouraged by your abuser either. You were likely told repeatedly you weren’t lovable – not by anyone except your abuser. So now, who will love you?
3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
The truth is, God has always loved you. Remembering that God loves you can help you through the darkest spaces.
By getting support, gaining knowledge about abuse and doing the work it takes to get healthy, you will begin to believe that you are loved. You will see God’s love flow through others that rally around to support you and you will begin to learn to love yourself again as well.
In reality, the struggle to escape abuse is difficult. It does take work to become a victor after abuse but the work is so worth it.
If you are currently in abuse, I encourage you to safely begin to gain knowledge about abuse. Leslie Vernick is a great resource as well as the book, “Why does he do that” by Lundy Bankroft. Seek out a support group in your area. If you need help, please contact me. You can find my contact info at the top of my blog.
Peace and Blessings,