If you are a victim of domestic violence, you are not alone. Thousands of people experience domestic violence yearly, and many of them struggle to recover. This can be a challenging process, but with the right resources, it is possible to overcome the emotional toll and rebuild your life. Many victims have focused on recovery strategies to alleviate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and other lingering traumas from the abuse. By better understanding different approaches to domestic violence recovery, victims and their families can develop a more comprehensive plan that meets their unique needs to accelerate the healing process.
While there is no single “right” way to recover from domestic violence, some common elements are often included in successful plans. These include:
- A comprehensive support system of love and understanding. It’s no secret that the people in your life can profoundly impact your emotional well-being. When you are recovering from domestic violence, it is vital to surround yourself with individuals who will be supportive and understanding. This could include casual support from family and friends or professional help from a therapist or counselor. From providing a shoulder to cry on to offering helpful resources, the people in your life can keep the recurring thoughts of abuse at bay and help you feel more hopeful about the future.
- Therapeutic treatment to address the emotional damage. One of the most important steps in domestic violence recovery is seeking out treatment to address the emotional damage that has been done. This could involve meeting with a therapist regularly to talk about your experiences or participating in group therapy sessions with other survivors. Oftentimes, simply talking about what happened can help to lessen the hold that the memories have on you.
- Addressing any substance abuse issues. Many victims of domestic violence turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with the pain. If you find yourself using substances as a way to numb the hurt, it is important to seek help. There are many resources available to those struggling with addiction, and getting treatment can be an important step in your recovery.
- Taking care of your physical health. It is also important to take care of your physical health when you are recovering from domestic violence. This means getting regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep. Taking care of your body can help to reduce the stress that you are feeling and promote healing.
- Working on building self-esteem and self-compassion. One of the most common effects of domestic violence is low self-esteem. Victims often feel like they are not good enough or that they deserve the abuse. It is important to work on building self-esteem and self-compassion as part of the recovery process. This could involve participating in activities that make you feel good about yourself, such as volunteering or taking classes. Or it could simply involve being more mindful of the way you talk to yourself and treating yourself with compassion.
- Moving out of the home where the abuse occurred. For many people, one of the most important steps in recovery is moving out of the home where the abuse occurred. Walking around the same rooms can trigger memories and feelings of pain. This can dramatically reduce the speed of recovery. If possible, moving to a new home can help you to start fresh and begin the healing process. This will ward off more unwanted memories and help you to feel more in control of your life than if you stayed in the home where the abuse took place.
- Finding a new passion or hobby. One of the best ways to ward off negative thoughts and feelings is to immerse yourself in something that you are passionate about. Finding a new hobby or activity that you enjoy can help to take your mind off the past and give you something to look forward to. It can also help you to meet new people and build a support system of like-minded individuals. For example, if you enjoy painting, consider taking a class or joining a local art group. It’s the moments when we are sitting around doing nothing that the memories have a chance to creep in and take over. By filling your time with things that you enjoy, you can help to prevent this from happening.
- Writing out your story. One of the most therapeutic things that you can do is to write out your story. This can be done in a journal, or you can even write a book about your experiences. Getting your story down on paper can help you to make sense of what happened and help you to see the progress that you have made in your recovery. It can also be a way to share your stories with others who could use an uplifting message. For some people, this may not be the best option, as it can be triggering to relive the trauma. However, for others, it can be an incredibly healing experience that helps to foster closure.
- Treating yourself with kindness and compassion. Lastly, it is important to treat yourself with kindness and compassion. This means being gentle with yourself, both mentally and physically. It means giving yourself time to heal and not expecting too much from yourself. It means being patient and understanding that the process of recovery can be long and difficult. But, most importantly, it means recognizing that you are worth the effort. You deserve to be happy and healthy, and you deserve to live a life free from violence.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, please get help as soon as possible. There are many resources available to victims and their families. From a legal perspective, you can get a restraining order, file for custody of your children, and navigate the legal system with the help of a family law attorney. Contact an attorney today if you are ready to leave the abusive situation and start your path to safety.