Hidden Hurt Domestic Abuse Information

Surviving Domestic Abuse

Surviving domestic abuse and healing from domestic violence does not usually happen from one day to the next - the leaving can: you can be in the same house, frightened one day, and the next you can be somewhere safe and never have to see him again. But that is just leaving. Suriving involves finding yourself again, putting yourself back together and learning to life again. Surviving domestic abuse is a process, which might initially look scary, but is actually the road to freedom and back to being able to enjoy being alive.

leaving but puzzledSo now you have left your abuser, or he has finally left your home. You are on your own. You may have children to look after, work to go to, or other responsibilities. You thought that once you had made the decision to end the relationship and were no longer together with him, things would suddenly be much easier. But actually it is still a struggle to get through each day.

Maybe your confidence is low, and you are not sure that you can cope with dealing with the responsibility of everyday chores (bills, children, home to maintain, work, etc.) on your own? Maybe you are not used to making decisions and all the options and choices are frightening? Maybe you are lonely and wondering whether you have made the right decision? Maybe you still feel guilty about what may feel like 'giving up' on him or letting the children down by not providing them with a 'normal family life'? Maybe you are still fairly isolated, feel somehow 'different' from the other people at work or at the school gate, your self-esteem is low and you find it difficult to relate to others? Maybe you are frightened about what he might do next, this is a new situation, and you don't know what to expect?

These are all feelings and fears which are normal after escaping an abusive relationship. Living with an abuser can erode your self-esteem, self-worth and confidence. But once you have escaped, you will find that your sense of worth and confidence does return, even though it may take some time to 'find yourself' again. You have already shown yourself that you have the ability to make decisions, that you have the courage and strength to carry through your resolves, and you know you can cope with almost anything you have to face - after all, if you managed to maintain your sanity and keep functioning (i.e. coping and surviving) while in an abusive relationship, you have all the skills and strength needed to continue to do so. Remember, each day you get through you are a Survivor, no longer a Victim.

Below are a few suggestions for helping you through those first few weeks or months after the separation:

  • Keep a diary of everything you manage to do, even mundane things such as making a proper meal, taking the kids somewhere, cleaning the kitchen floor or paying a bill. Give yourself credit for everything you achieve. When you are feeling low and as though you cannot cope, this will serve as a reminder of how much you do actually get done on a daily basis.
  • Seek out a local support group. This will help you feel less isolated and help validate your experiences and feeling and help you understand what has and is happening.
  • Educate yourself on Domestic Abuse. At your own pace read up on how an abusive relationship works, it's short- and long-term effects, etc. This will help you to understand and better deal with the abuse, will validate your feelings and help you feel less isolated.
  • Be creative. Draw or paint pictures, whatever comes into your head. compose poems or write down your experiences, what has happened, how you feel. Often this helps to work through and formalise your experiences and feelings.
  • Pamper and reward yourself. Buy yourself something nice, bubble bath, perfume, a new book or an outfit. It doesn't have to be big or expensive, but it has to be something for you!
  • Change things. Many survivors have found making changes in their surroundings or their own appearance has helped. Paint a room, change your hairstyle, re-arrange the furniture, etc. anything that personalises you or your place. This will stamp your own identity on to your surroundings, and also give you a sense of achievement and satisfaction.
  • Set yourself goals. Make them realistic and start at the beginning. If it is difficult facing the other mothers at the school gate, set yourself the task of just saying 'hello' to one other person. But don't pressurise yourself to reach your targets too soon. Sometimes we learn more by not reaching our goals on target than by doing so easily. Work at your own pace, not the expectation of other people.
  • Keep the number of a good friend next to the phone for those low patches when you just need someone to talk to. If there is no-one whom you can confide in, or at least not any time day or night, keep the number for the Samaritans nearby or another 24-hour helpline number. That's what they are there for!
  • Ensure you get time-out. Time just for yourself. Arrange for a friend or family member to look after the kids for the afternoon or evening (if none are available, find a reliable babysitter) and do something you enjoy. This isn't selfish - you need to look after yourself to be any good to anyone else, especially if you have children. And you need to learn to look after yourself and be kind to yourself first and foremost. You deserve it!
  • Get some exercise and fresh air. Go for a walk, take up swimming or some other sport. Some survivors find doing a self-defence or martial arts course helps build their confidence back up (however, some people find martial arts too tactile to begin with, especially if they have been raped). Keeping fit is good for body and mind.
  • Make up a tape of your favourite music tracks. Music can lift your spirits and encourage you in your resolve. (Personally, I keep Eurythmics "Thorn in My Side" and Gloria Gaynor "I am what I am" to hand for those low patches.)
  • Take a few days off now and again, visit friends or family and enjoy a change of scenery. This can help boost your batteries again and can act as a good reminder that there is more to life and still plenty to enjoy.

Above all else, if you haven't done so already, seek counselling. ANY form of abuse is traumatic and nibbles away at our deep-seated need for security. It can challenge our understanding and perception of how life works, leaving us feeling insecure and fragile at the very least. Good counselling helps us work through both the short-term and long-term effects of abuse, enabling us to learn and grow from our experiences. Check out the list of Helplines and Organisations, ask your local GP for local services or charities or phone Women's Aid for local information.

How did YOU get through each day after leaving an abusive relationship?

What helped you to survive day by day after leaving an abusive relationship? Share your tips with other visitors!

What is Your Tip for Suriviving called? (example: "Joining a Support Forum")

These are Ideas other Survivors have found helpful!

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

letting go 
Letting go of the hope, of the distorted 'us', the shame, the hurt, the anger and fear. We never may truly get over the fear and hurt but somehow we must …

A Whole New Beginning 
Telling myself I was finally free and never had to walk on eggshells again, that there was a life out there that I wanted again for me and my children …

Don't bottle up your feelings. Get help even if you feel okay as in my case: I left it 2 years ago and it's hit me ten times harder than at the time. I've …

Fighting to get my kids back. 
My children were taking into care as their father posed a risk to my life and potentially theirs. Having my kids removed and fighting to get them …

Writing things down 
I found that writing things down helped me. When I finished with my partner I wrote two pages of all the names he called me and the physical abuse he did. …

Remember how to Relax 
It might take a while to remember how to relax ... After "walking on eggshells" and predicting mood swings and always being ready for the next attack …

Remind your self that none of this is your fault. 
When the Feelings of guilt get too much you need to tell yourself that it is NOT your fault. He brought all this on himself and you never wanted it …

Burning the reminders Not rated yet
I had kept wedding photos and photos of us with our daughter, believing that it was good for her. That I was saving it for her. Surprise! She doesn't …

Affirmations Not rated yet
This is one way I found of surviving and putting myself back together after an abusive relationship. I kept telling myself over and over again throughout …

Music music music Not rated yet
I started making mix tapes for my friends and sending them out through www.mixcloud.com. All the lovely feedback gave me so much confidence and some of …

this is my time now! Not rated yet
This is my time Now! I have started to do things I want to do and which I can enjoy doing. I started to learn to play piano, and have picked up hobbies …

Christina has been able to move from victim to survivor by learning to believe in herself: "MINE WAS LEARNING TO BELIEVE IN MY SELF. YOUR NOT A VICTIM …

Get Cognitive Behavior Therapy  Not rated yet
When I first left my abusive ex, I was in a state and was so for a year. Now, a year on, I'm receiving proper therapy in the form of Cognitive Behaviour …

Keeping Busy Not rated yet
My tip on leaving would be to be Keeping busy so that by the time I go to bed I am too tired to stay up and think. Keeping busy involves visiting neglected …

support groups Not rated yet
Talk to a close friend or seek a support group. I bottled all my abusive experiences up for years until I broke down. Then I was advised to seek counselling. …

Your mobile Not rated yet
Change your mobile and telephone number and email address. Delete the abuser's numbers and contact details from your phones and notebooks. Then go out …

Give your story a voice. Not rated yet
I talked to and told my story to whomever would listen. I had to stop being ashamed of what I had been through and understand that it was not my fault …

Writing down everything he has done pysical and verbal ... when, where and why in table form. Not rated yet
Write down everything he has done physical and verbal,social, sexual etc ... when(m/y), where and why in table form. You will understand your feelings, …

Writing things down.  Not rated yet
I made a diary of all the things that had happened in the past. It helped me to remember that I was not the one to blame. I realised how I had been worn …

growing something where once were weeds Not rated yet
(put through a glass door, kicked down stairs, tripped up whilst running....injuries to cervical spine and lumbar..pinch nerves...compromising my mobility, …

Being selfish for once in my life Not rated yet
I had to make myself forget what happened and start again loving myself and consciously stopping negative thought patterns. I started all over again. …

Motivational Quotes Not rated yet
Write down little quotes that may help you and pick you up. Write them on post its or on colorful pieces of card and leave them around your house to keep …

Surround yourself with friends and family that care about you. Not rated yet
After spending months analyzing whether or not he ever actually loved me, I decided to stop dwelling on the past and concentrate on the people that actually …

Find Strength Not rated yet
Even though it seems far fetched, I manage to FIND STRENGTH in myself to do things. I don't even like walking outside knowing he's out there but I push …

Click here to write your own.

Take it one day at a time Not rated yet
There is a need for taking one day at a time which trying to start to live again: Once you're out of the abusive relationship, it's generally not thoroughly …

Thought Blocking... Not rated yet
Thought blocking can be helpful when there is just too much going on around abuse issues. I had so many people interview me about the abuse, that all …

peace of mind Not rated yet
The thing that helps me to stay out of an abusive relationship is realizing that being in an abusive relationship doesn't give you peace of mind. And that …

hour by hour, lots of deep breaths Not rated yet
I'm still hiding from my ex and I have a son by him. He is trying to take him from me but he's so abusive and horrible that I am going to have to fight …

I Love My Children Not rated yet
I am still suffering from repeated flashbacks of his having a hammer to my head and he was screaming at me: "I am going to f---ing kill you!". I think …

Do Not Isolate Yourself Not rated yet
It is so tempting to hide the hurt after an abusive relationship literally by hiding yourself to the real world. You might do this by either physically …

Click here to write your own.

© 2011, Hidden Hurt

Return from Surviving Domestic Abuse to Abuse Victims

In This Section:

Related Pages:

Learning to Trust again

Awareness of the Self

Are you a Survivor?

Coping with PTSD

Recommended Reading:

Books other Survivors have found helpful in the US:

The Self-Esteem Guided Journal: A 10-Week Program (New Harbinger Guided Journal)


The Self-esteem Companion: Simple Exercises to Help You Challenge Your Inner Critic & Celebrate Your Personal Strengths

In the UK the following books have proven helpful to women trying to survive domestic abuse:

The Self-Esteem Guided Journal: A Ten-Week Program (New Harbinger Guided Journal)


The Self-Esteem Companion: Simple Exercises to Help You Challenge Your Inner Critic and Celebrate Your Personal Strengths

UK National Domestic Violence Freephone number 0808 2000 247

Life after getting out of an abusive relationship often continues to be a struggle, and It's My Life Now offers guidance to overcoming common pitfalls, blending worksheets with insights on self exploration and ongoing growth. From handling feels of loss and guilt to overcoming feelings associated with having loved an abuser, this book continues to offer invaluable lessons and be a real source of help and strength:

To order in the US: It's My Life Now: Starting Over After an Abusive Relationship or Domestic Violence, 2nd Edition

To order in the UK: It's My Life Now


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