These steps will help you clear your thinking after weeks or even years of abuse.
Over time, you’ve likely developed some side-effects of abuse that weaken your ability to exercise personal choice and freedom. The beauty of these first steps is that they create and support confidence and clarity – two characteristics that will help you to say goodbye to abuse and/or your abuser once and for all.
1. Accept that you cannot control your abuser or when he abuses.
This idea creates confusion in the minds of many abuse victims. I mean, don’t we spend every waking moment trying to soothe him or do what he expects to avoid abuse? Don’t we sometimes “hurry things along” so he’ll explode and we can get to the honeymoon period?
Doing those things gives us the idea that we have control over a portion of our abuse. Fighting fire with fire (despite your good intentions) does not solve the problem. It only escalates or increases the frequency of the abusive cycle. We need to think a bit higher. Instead of attempting to control if and when he abuses, we could control how we react when he does abuse.
Another rotten thing about controlling his behavior is that we’re still wasting the majority of our time thinking about him instead of finding our solution to end the abuse.
Additionally, I challenge you to pay attention a little more closely. You’ll soon realize that you can spend eight hours or zero hours on abuse prevention, but the fact remains: if he feels a need to abuse you, he will. No matter what you’ve done to prevent it. You may as well let go of your attempts to control and move on to better activities.
Check out Why do abusers abuse? if you have trouble letting go.
2. Reach out to friends, family outside your home, and resources in the community.
You must do this to break his hold on you! You’re fighting a powerful abusive enemy, and he wants to keep you fighting his game with his rules. You’ll need all the help you can get. Your silence is his most powerful ally – stop giving him the advantage.
- Call national or state hotlines.
- Break Your Silence by sharing your story on this site (anonymously is fine).
- For goodness sakes, call a family member or friend and talk to them!
- Visit a domestic violence support group (call your local department of social services).
- Sign up for mentoring from survivors on this site.
- Join an online message board with other abuse victims and survivors.
- Connect with others like you on my Facebook page.
3. Educate yourself about all types of abuse and control methods.
Recognizing abusive behavior and putting a name to his control methods will help you to see your situation and your abuser in a new light. Read everything you can on the subjects of abuse and controlling people. Verbal abuse is a great starting point because it underlies every other type of abuse. Read about “logical fallacies” online to see not only how our mind tricks us, but also how abusive people use inaccurate logic to corrupt and control us. Educate yourself on brainwashing and crazymaking to see how your abuser warped your heart and mind to believe they were necessary.
Remember that your current friends and family, due to cultural, religious or personal attitudes, may be horrible helpers! Some people still believe it is okay to “smack a woman every now and then to keep her in line.” If you find this to be your situation, don’t sabotage your recovery or strength by listening to more nonsense. Call hotlines or join online groups instead.
4. Develop self-reliance through detachment and personal boundaries.
Writing my own boundaries gave me a sense of personal strength and responsibility to myself to end the abuse I once so willingly accepted. I stopped seeing myself as a victim and started seeing myself as an agent of change, both for myself and my relationship.
When I began enforcing my boundaries, the abuse increased. My abuser was like a little child being denied his comfort blanket. He didn’t take to my new reactions well. He lashed out physically, and I left him.
As much as I didn’t want to leave, I will not go back to that relationship ever again. The outcome for your relationship may be different. Some women, after changing their reactions to abuse and undergoing counseling with and without their husband, find saving the relationship possible.
5. Design a safety plan.
This is a must whether you think you’ll leave the abuser or plan to stay with him. Your safety plan will give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can leave when or if you must.