The pictures, the memories, the favorite place to hang out, the movies, the gifts… there are so many different ways we can be painfully reminded of a relationship that ended. After a break up from an abusive relationship, it can feel like the whole world has turned upside down, leaving nothing but feelings of sadness, loneliness, and depression. It’s completely natural to feel this way, and often it can feel like leaving the relationship was the wrong decision. At loveisrespect, we encourage you to stay strong and stay away from abusive relationships. Let’s look at some helpful things you can focus on to help you get past the fall out of a break up.
It’s natural to feel hurt: Ending an abusive relationship is a big change, and all major life changes can be challenging to adjust to how things are different. In abusive relationships, it is common for partners to spend all their free time together. Also, people who are abusive can make the other person think that he/she is not worthy of having friends or dating anyone else. When the relationship ends and the abusive partner has done all they can to make the other person feel unworthy, it can be easy to feel like there is no one else who cares.
Since the abusive partner wants the relationship to continue so he/she can continue to take advantage of their partner, an abusive person typically makes the other person feel guilty about breaking up or makes threats to keep their partner fearful of ending the relationship. So a lot of the negative feelings a person can have after a break up are the result of the abuse that happened in the relationship. The important thing to know is that it’s OK to feel that way: the person that was abusive made you feel that way, and that’s NOT acceptable.
Building a strong support network is key: Bottling up all the strong emotions people feel after a break up and carrying them alone can be a daunting task. This is why it is important to build a solid support network to turn to in times when the break up is hard to handle. A support network can include any person(s) you feel comfortable talking to about the break up like family, friends, counselors, and loveisrespect.
Counseling can be a good option to move on from the abuse because it provides people with a regular opportunity to talk about their feelings after the break up. If you are uncertain about where to look for counseling, loveisrespect has counseling resources in your area that we would be happy to find for you.
If you are not comfortable with counseling, talking to someone who is a good listener (who will not tell you how to feel or what to do) can be just as helpful as counseling. The important thing is to have the courage to discuss your feelings surrounding the break up. If it’s hard to open up to people at first, starting a journal can be a huge help as well. Not only will you be able to get your emotions out on paper, you will have a record of how you’re feeling on a regular basis.
Pursue your dreams: One of the most precious things we have is time, and the choice of how to spend that time is often taken away from a person in an abusive relationship. After the relationship ends, it can be incredibly liberating to know that you can go back to pursuing your favorite things. The best part is that “favorite things” is just that… what you love to do most. So whether it’s spending time with family and friends, playing a sport, learning an instrument, going to the mall, volunteering, or dancing like you just don’t care, pursuing things that give you joy are helpful to get past a break up. It may feel awkward to start hanging out with others and be trying new things, but just like anything, it will get easier and easier to the point where you can’t wait to have fun again.
Even though the fall out after breaking up can seem daunting and confusing, each person who decides to leave an abusive relationship has already taken the hardest step in moving on: he/she left the relationship. As time goes on, these negative feelings will lessen; by acknowledging that’s it not your fault for feeling this way, building a strong support network, and pursuing your passions, these negative feelings will lessen and eventually disappear at an even greater pace. And if you ever feel like you have no one to turn to, we at loveisrespect are always here to listen.