The following piece was written by a survivor to empower those affected by domestic violence. Please note potential triggers.
So, you’re out! You’re either in a shelter, at a family or friends house, or maybe even the hospital. But, this time you know you aren’t going back. Whether it was, emotional, financial, physical abuse, or all three- you have escaped. The abuse has lasted for years, or this may be the first time- regardless you should feel so relieved, right? Don’t feel bad if you don’t, this is a perfectly normal feeling, in a long, confusing list of emotions you will experience and question as you put the pieces of your life back together.
For many, leaving is the most difficult and terrifying thing a victim will do, even more terrifying than living with an abuser. With your abuser, you often knew what to expect. You may have identified a pattern, cycle, or triggers that you knew would set off the abuse. But, now that you are out- life is far more unpredictable. While each person has different situations, some have children, pets, no money, no place to go, or family to call. Each victim will feel the same feelings and emotions, not necessarily in the same sequence, degree, or amount of time- but each victim takes a ride on the emotional roller coaster.
Some are scared, unsure where they will sleep, afraid of retaliation from the abuser, and fearful that they can’t make it on their own. You may be worried, not just about yourself and your children, but what about him? Is he in jail, is he suicidal again, is he furious at you? You may also be angry - angry at yourself for worrying about him, or for staying as long as you did. Angry at him for putting you in the position you are in, letting you down, or hurting you. You may feel sad, for so many reasons, maybe you had to leave your house and your belongings and uproot yourself and possibly your children into a shelter or an unfamiliar environment. You may be sad because your kids no longer have a two-parent home, or you miss your abuser, because not all times were bad. Ending an abusive relationship is like breaking up on steroids. Just like other relationships, you suffer the loss of love, the loss of hope you had for the future, and then you get mad at yourself for missing someone who hurt you so much.
Some days will be better than others. Some days you will want to go back, but reminding yourself that things don’t change, that you deserve better, and remembering why you left in the first place- can help you get through the day. Every day starts over, with support, self-care, surrounding yourself around others who understand what you have been through, and learning to love yourself again, the roller coaster will begin to slow down. You are not alone, shelters, hotlines, counselors, medication, groups, and a wide variety of community resources are available for the sole purpose of helping victims take back their lives.