Life after surviving domestic abuse
Only the people that lived through a controlling relationship and managed to finally escape understand just how much courage, energy and bravery this required. One has to literally be able to flee, leaving all possesions behind. One goes into survival mode. One is robbed of anything apart from the fact you are still alive and probably have nothing apart from the clothes you stand up in. Words can't describe the confusion that one may feel.
On occasions the victim may feel that they have to return back to face the perpetrator. This is due to the continued level of possibly being stalked, tracked,continuous phone calls, threats or, of course, the promises to change their behaviour. One is undoubtedly vulnerable and exhausted as anyone would be. As with the majority of women that I see, all report that they just want a happy relationship. It has become clear that the perpetrator over time has made them feel 'not good enough', 'inadequate', 'unattractive' 'unloveable', 'unable to cope without them'.
One returns and, for a short time, there is an improvement and one drops their guard. However, the process begins again. Unfortunately some stay simply as they feel they dont have the energy to leave. Domestic violence simply escalates over time. Sadly, according to Refuge, 2 women are killed per week in England and Wales due to domestic violence.
For those who have managed to leave their partners, there is an adjustment period. After the euphoria comes the harsh reality of starting again. Most women report feelings of real loss that so many survivors feel. Friends do not always understand you; they havent experienced it and do not have an insight into just how hard it is. As with all relationships that break down, one experiences loss. In fact, having survived this myself many years ago now, I can probably say for many of us the loss seems almost greater as we have tried so very hard to make it work. It's such a very long and painful journey. We are guilty of metaphorically beating ourselves up again and again trying to work out why it happened to us - "Is it me?".
Domestic abuse causes psychological trauma and it's therefore not suprising one has to deal with 'flashbacks' and 'feelings of guilt'. At times it would be fair to say the effects of domestic abuse can be overwhelming to experience. One feels very isolated, and I really do believe that getting support, either from a trained therapist or organisation where one can talk with other women that understand the trauma you are going through, is an important part of recovery. During this time of recovery many of your friends may simply not be able to really understand why you feel as you do. It's not their fault of course and one wouldn't want them to have to experience what we have been through - but it is unlikely their words will be helpful during this sensitive and traumatic period of time.
There is life after domesic abuse! Absolutely! It takes continued hard work, energy and support. One needs continued positive support. As a survivor I have gone on to having a full life where I do all the things I couldn't have done had I stayed. I rebuilt my life and provided a safe and happy home for my children despite the poverty I lived through. I went to college and the university and I became the independent lady I used to be prior to meeting my 'Charming controller'. One may have scars, but one has lived and survived!
Survivors are strong people that have demonstrated true courage and bravery. They are strong enough to move forward and rebuild their lives.
Counselling can provide much-needed support to survivors of domestic abuse.