Immediately after leaving your abusive relationship, you tend to feel some conflicting emotions in no certain order: joy, pride, fear, and great sadness. I remember feeling them all at once sometimes in the days and weeks after separating from my ex-husband. The fear and sadness tempt you to return; the joy and pride beg you to stay away. Women Against Abuse and others say an average abuse victim leaves about seven times before they stay gone for good, so you can understand how powerful the emotions of fear and sadness could be for you after you go.
The key to staying away lies in your safety plan. However, even the best safety planning can leave you struggling in the aftermath of leaving. It isn’t your fault for not seeing every problem you could have after you leave. Last time I checked, only a small percentage of people are psychic like that and almost all of them can’t see their own futures! If you choose to return, write down what made you go back.
- Did you return because of money? If so, think of a better way to handle the finances the next time you leave. Talk to an attorney (most will give free consults) and find out what your rights are to the marital funds. Whatever money you take with you will be settled up in court later, so if you need it, take it.
- Did you return because of your partner’s begging and pleading or threats to commit suicide? Then think of ways to insulate yourself from your partner’s words the next time you leave. One good tip for handling the ex who promises to kill themselves if you don’t come back is to call all their friends and family and let them know what your ex-partner threats to do. Let them tend to those needs; you stay out of it.
- Did you return because of overwhelming sadness? Then education is key for understanding the “trauma bond” and understanding that you are sad because of the broken dreams you’ve left behind. You may miss your partner’s good qualities, and that is true; however, most of the sadness comes from grieving the loss of a dream. If you can hold on and feel the grief without returning, it will pass.
TIP: However sound your reasons seem to return to your abusive partner, there will come a day when you realize your emotions caused you to make a dangerous decision; you will decide to leave again. So it is important to keep notes about what made you decide to go back! Your notes will help you write a safety plan that includes solutions for that problem, and your chances of staying away the next time increase.
Featured photo from WFMY
- Emotions After Leaving Your Abuser
- Leaving Abuse: Ways to Feel Stronger So You Can Go
- What If You Can’t Stay Away?
- Self-Care Activities for Domestic Abuse Survivors
- Escaping Abuse Is (Always) the Best Thing to Do